M A I N   N E W S

Pranab Mukherjee tells Pakistan
Fulfil assurances on terror
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, December 16
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee has said at present there was a pause in the comprehensive Indo-Pakistan dialogue process and hoped that Pakistan would fulfil its commitment on not allowing its territory from being used for terrorist activities against India. He said India wanted the assurances, given twice in the past at the highest level, to be fulfilled with the “terrorist infrastructure dismantled”.

Mukherjee, who arrived here on a day-long visit, held a series of meetings with the state Congress leaders in view of the ongoing Assembly elections and also addressed mediapersons.

He also referred to the confidence-building measures and trans-LoC connectivity between the two sides and advocated greater people-to-people contact. “These would make borders irrelevant, if we reduce the restrictions without changing the borders”, the foreign minister commented.

“We expect that good sense prevails on the neighbouring country and it fulfils the assurances,” he said. The union minister also hoped that conducive atmosphere returns to Pakistan. He added that “words must be followed by action”. The assurances were given by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York on September 24 and by former Pakistan President Pervez Musharaff on January 6, 2004, Mukherjee added.

Replying to questions, the foreign minister said the recent Mumbai attack had nothing to do with the Indo-Pakistan relations with regard to Kashmir. “It (terrorism) is not merely an issue between India and Pakistan”, he said, adding that it was an international one.

Mukherjee said the process of dialogue had already been in progress with the constitution of working groups through three roundtable conferences. Four of the five working groups constituted had already submitted their recommendations, while the fifth group would submit its recommendations soon, he said. He also urged the Kashmir youth to shun the gun and follow the path of dialogue to resolve all issues.

In his opening remarks, the minister expressed optimism over the encouraging turnout in the ongoing Assembly elections in the state. He said these elections had drawn maximum attention not only in the rest of the country but also in a large part of the world.

Mukherjee said the voter turnout in different constituencies was significantly higher than in previous elections and this was “quite encouraging”. He held that the large participation manifested peoples’ faith in democracy and hoped that the same would be witnessed in the remaining two phases.

Referring to the performance of the Congress-PDP coalition government, Mukherjee said it had immensely contributed to stability, development and peace process in the state. Though the coalition government had fallen at the fag end of its six-year term, the senior Congress leader said it did not undermine developments that the coalition government made during its tenure. There was no dearth of financial resources for the state and a lot of development had taken place in Jammu and Kashmir over the past three to four decades.

He referred to the Rs 24,000 crore assistance to the state, which encompassed developmental projects like hydropower, construction of roads and launch of the rail project in Kashmir.



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