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Honour your word, Prez tells Pakistan
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 12
Terming the Mumbai strikes as a deliberate attempt to retard India’s economic progress, President Pratibha Patil today asked Pakistan to honour its commitment and take credible action against terrorist groups operating from its soil.

In her address to a joint sitting of Parliament, the President said terrorism from Pakistan had eroded the achievements of the bilateral dialogue. She spoke with hope about India’s emerging diplomatic ties with the US and said the government was looking forward to working with the Obama administration to mutual benefit in the bilateral field as well as on the other major challenges of our time, including terrorism.

“Despite solemn commitments by Pakistan that it will not allow territory under its control to be used for terrorism in any manner against India, militants from Pakistan have continued to attack us. We expect Pakistan to honour its commitment made to us,” she said, recalling the progress made on the bilateral front since 2004 and how much of that now stood lost.

In her 27-page address that was heard in rapt attention (expect when MDMK members clamoured for the Sri Lankan Tamils’ cause), the President, expectedly, elaborated upon government’s achievements on the political, social, economic and diplomatic fronts.

She declared the UPA’s resolve to crush terrorism, meet internal security challenges and modernise the armed forces to face diverse challenges. “Our long borders make it imperative to keep the armed forces in a state of full preparedness,” said Patil, mentioning government’s plan to ensure coastal and maritime security. She admitted to Left-wing extremism being a major concern in many states.

On the economic front, the President made no new promises, except lauding the UPA for “unprecedented growth of over 8.9 per cent in the last four years”, and saying its policies ensured that while India faced an economic slowdown, its fundamentals remained strong.

“Our banks face no threat,” said the President, listing government’s economy-stimulus measures and fiscal initiatives that “helped reduce inflation”. She remembered to mention the recent reduction in prices of petrol, diesel and LPG to “bring relief to the common man”.

Interestingly, Patil began her address saying: “The government is judged by this maxim — aam aadmi ko kya mila,” and then listed UPA’s efforts to help the aam aadmi like NREGA, social security bill, OBC reservation in higher education, PM’s minority programme, JNNURM, etc. There was, however, no promise of the passage women’s reservation bill, expect that it had been introduced in the Parliament.

Nuclear energy, however, bagged big mentions, with Patil recalling how the India Specific Safeguards Agreement ended the 34-year era of sanctions against India. The new environment/biodiversity policy, National Action Plan for Climate Change were the other highlights of the speech that also appeased the Tamil cause, saying the government was concerned about the civilians internally displaced in Sri Lanka, and hoped the government and LTTE returned to the negotiating table.

Patil’s largely-silent address was interrupted on four occasions when members applauded references to security personnel laying down lives to protect the country in terror attacks; the adoption of October 2 by the UN as the International Day of Non-Violence; the classical language status to Kannada and Telugu, and the record profit by Indian railways over the past four years.

Later, both the houses were adjourned after obituary references to former president R. Ventakraman, freedom fighter Ranbir Singh Hooda and Periasamy Thiagarajan.

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