On Board Air India One: Asserting that he is not putting "blinding faith" in his Pakistani counterpart
Yousuf Raza Gilani for pushing bilateral dialogue, Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said Pakistan`s armed forces
were "on board" on the peace process.
He said India wanted to strengthen the hands of the
civilian government in Pakistan and that Gilani, whom he met
in Male on Thursday, has "clearly understood" that one more
mumbai-like attack will be a big setback in the peace process.
The Indo-Pak peace process, the resumed dialogue of which
is going to take place shortly, was subject to accidents,
Singh said while answering a wide range of questions from
journalists on board his special flight while returning from
He said his visit to Pakistan would take place only when
Pakistan takes solid steps against the Mumbai terror attack
accused in that country.
"I would not not like to go into the details of this
matter. But when I did discuss with Pakistan Prime Minister
whether Pakistan`s armed forces were on board, the feeling I
got after a long time was that Pakistan`s armed forces were on
board," he said in reply to a question on Foreign Minister
Hina Rabbani Khar`s claim that army was on board the peace
initiatives with India.
Asked what prompted him to call Gilani a "man of peace",
Singh said he had met him four-five times and every time they
discussed bilateral issues, his counterpart had agreed that
there was no no way forward except for peaceful resolution of
all problems and that terrorism was not helping the process.
"In fact, he (Gilani) has gone ahead and expressed his
reservations that terrorism is a common enemy, it (terrorism)
has not not helped advance Pakistan`s cause. I tend to believe
that Pakistan has a democratic government. We would like to
strengthen the hands of the democratic government.
"In the desire for normalising the relations, trade and
terror-related issues, I think, in Gilani Pakistan has a Prime
Minister who is ready to work with us," he said.
Asked about trusting Gilani, the Prime Minister said, "it
is not that we are putting blind faith in one individual,
however well-meaning he may be. PM Gilani and I believe in
normalisation of relations."
Singh said he and Gilani agreed that the resumed round of
dialogue should start and it will be imperative in the
development of trade relations with the changing attitude of
Pakistan by giving Most Favoured Nation (MFN) and the
willingness of Pakistan to discuss all issues
including that of terrorism.
"So I come back (from Male) with the expectation that the
second round with Pakistan will begin very shortly. But what
will be the outcome of the dialogue I cannot say now now
because Indo-Pak relations are subject to accidents," he said.
"We both recognised that if there is one (more) incident
like Mumbai attack, then that would be a big setback. I think
that has been clearly understood by PM Gilani," he said.