Rise above narrow interests in J&K: PM
New Delhi, August 15
And in an obvious warning to Islamabad to desist from fishing in troubled waters, he firmly told Pakistan that composite dialogue process could suffer a serious blow if it continued to support terrorism directed against India.
Speaking from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort after unfurling the tricolour on the occasion of the 62nd Independence Day, Manmohan Singh sought to position himself as a politician, who has weathered many a storm while being at the helm of affairs over the last four years and was fully prepared to grapple with the challenges ahead.
In the nearly 40-minute-long address in Hindi, the Prime Minister listed the achievements of his government on different fronts while outlining how it proposed to check the runaway inflation and provide succour to the poor and deprived sections of the society.
With the worsening situation in Jammu and Kashmir weighing heavily on his mind, Manmohan Singh devoted considerable time to violent protests in the state over the Amarnath land allotment row that has polarised the people there on communal lines.
“Dividing people in the name of religion can complicate these issues further which can also pose a threat to the unity and integrity of the country. I appeal to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to cooperate in establishing peace in the state. It is my conviction that issues can be resolved through dialogue and peaceful means,’’ Manmohan Singh said.
With UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and leader of the Opposition L K Advani being among a galaxy of top leaders hearing him with rapt attention, the PM said “in this hour of crisis, divisive politics will lead us nowhere. I appeal to all political parties to keep the long term interests of Jammu and Kashmir in view and come together to find a permanent solution to the problems of the state.”
To assuage the sentiments of both Hindus and Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, he reminded them that the Amarnath shrine inspired all Indians to march together. ‘’This shrine is a shining example of our secular tradition, where Hindu pilgrims have been looked after for years by their Muslim brothers. Issues related to this sacred place, especially the issue of providing the best possible facilities to pilgrims, can only be resolved in an atmosphere of peace and goodwill.’’
Without directly blaming Pakistan’s ISI for the July 7 suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, he said it has cast a shadow over the efforts to normalise relations with Islamabad and bring a lasting and honourable peace in the region. He said he had personally conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani in Colombo recently his disappointment and concern over the situation arising from the embassy incident. ‘’If this issue of terrorism is not addressed, all the good intentions that we have for our two peoples to live in peace and harmony will be negated,’’ he said, reminding Islamabad that the terrorists and those who supported them were the enemies of the peoples of Indian and Pakistan.
Terrorism, extremism, communalism and fundamentalism had emerged as major challenges to the unity and integrity of the country. Intelligence agencies and police forces would have to be further strengthened to meet the problem of terrorism, he said in an obvious reference to the intelligence failure leading to the recent serial blasts in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Bangalore.
On the Indo-US nuclear deal on which the Left parties last month withdrew support to his government, the Prime Minister pointed out that the pact would end India’s nuclear isolation. It would open up new opportunities for trade in dual-use high technologies and nuclear materials and equipment, opening up new pathways to accelerate industrialisation of the country.
He noted that the quality of India’s uranium resources was not comparable to those of other producers. Many countries had imposed sanctions on trade with India in nuclear materials, nuclear equipment and nuclear technology as a result of which the country’s nuclear energy programme had suffered.
Speaking on economic challenges confronting the nation, the Prime Minister attributed the increasing inflation to external factors while expressing his government’s determination to deal with it. All over the world and in global markets, the price of food, fuel and other commodities had been rising and in many developing countries the rate of inflation was double that in India.
Describing India as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Manmohan Singh said the country had for the first time in history had for the last 4 years nearly 9 per cent growth rate. The economy must now grow at the rate of 10 per cent every year to get rid of poverty and generate employment for all.
The Prime Minister also touched upon various schemes launched by his government, including the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Food Security Mission, Bharat Nirman, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission, National Rural health Mission and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. He also spoke about the steps taken by the UPA regime to make the government transparent, efficient and responsive, including the passage in Parliament of the Right to Information Act and the National e-Governance Plan.