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India will reshape ties with Pakistan: Prez
‘But Islamabad will have to rein in terror groups first’
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 4
More than six months after the Mumbai terror attacks, India today extended olive branch to Pakistan with President Pratibha Patil asserting that the new UPA government would reshape the relationship with Islamabad provided the neighbouring country sincerely dealt with terrorist groups acting against India.

Emboldened by a reasonable participation by the people in the recent elections in Jammu and Kashmir, she also declared the UPA government’s resolve to constructively engage with all groups that abjure violence in the state as also in North-East and other parts of the country.

Laying the road-map for the new UPA government in an address to the joint session of Parliament, Patil announced that the government would maintain utmost vigil in the area of internal security by pursuing a policy of zero-tolerance towards terrorism, set up a national counter-terrorism centre to take anti-terrorism measures and seek an early approval of the bill for the prevention of communal violence.

As the first woman President of the Republic addressed the members from the two Houses in the Central Hall of Parliament, seated on her left was another woman — Meira Kumar — who made history yesterday by becoming the first woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha. In an address heard with rapt attention by stalwarts on both the treasury and opposition benches, President Patil said the victory of the UPA in the elections was a mandate for inclusive growth, equitable development and a secular and plural India.

Noting that creativity, innovation and enterprise held the key to people and nations realising their potential, the President observed that the ‘dreary desert sand of dead habit’ must be left behind. The young people were tearing down the narrow domestic walls of religion, region, language, caste and gender that confined them. “My government will ensure that its policies for education and science and technology are imbued with a spirit of innovation so that the creativity of a billion people is unleashed,” she said, declaring that the next ten years would be dedicated as a ‘Decade of Innovation’.

In her elaborate speech, the President covered almost all the issues, be it in the economic and social sectors or the defence and foreign policy front.

“My government will seek to reshape our relationship with Pakistan depending on the sincerity of Pakistan’s actions to confront groups who launch terrorist attacks against India from its territory,” Patil said in the midst of speculation that India could resume the process of talks with the neighbouring country in the coming days.

India would support initiatives in Sri Lanka, which could lead to a permanent political solution to the conflict and strengthen relations with other SAARC nations. The transformation of partnership with the US would be taken forward and at the same time strategic ties with Russia further consolidated. The multi-faceted partnership with China would be expanded.

Describing the armed forces as the nation’s pride, she announced that they would be fully enabled with modern technology to repel any threat from land, sea or air. To enhance combat efficiency as also to address the requirements of modern day warfare, a number of steps were under way.

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Top priorities

  • n Internal security and preservation of communal harmony
  • n Stepping up of economic growth in agriculture, manufacturing and services
  • n Consolidation of the existing flagship programmes for employment, education, health, rural infrastructure, urban renewal
  • n Concerted action for the welfare of women, youth, children, OBCs, SCs, STs, minorities, the differently-abled and elderly
  • n Governance reforms
  • n Creation and modernisation of infrastructure and capacity addition in key sectors
  • n Prudent fiscal management
  • n Energy security and environment protection
  • n Constructive and creative engagement with the world
  • n Promotion of a culture of enterprise and innovation

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