India puts terror on top for Pak talks

Last Updated: Monday, February 22, 2010 - 23:11

London: Ahead of the Indo-Pak talks this
week, India on Monday made it clear that process of normalisation
of ties with Pakistan can be sustained only by "effective
action" against groups there calling for jihad against India.

"...calls of jihad, hostility and aggression continue
to be made openly against India. This reflects the real and
tangible difficulties that we face in dealing with Pakistan,"
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said, delivering the key note
address at the 3rd International Institute of Strategic
Studies-MEA Dialogue here.

She also emphasised that "effective action against
such groups" by Pakistan is an "absolute must" if the process
of normalisation that India desires with Pakistan was to
happen.

Referring to the talks in New Delhi on Thursday with
her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, Rao said India is
making "another sincere attempt" to initiate dialogue with
Pakistan.

"We hope we can build, in a graduated manner, better
communication and a serious and responsive dialogue to address
issues of concern between our two countries," she said.

Describing terrorism as the pivotal security challenge
for India, Rao said terror groups implacably opposed to India
continue to recruit, train and plot attacks "from safe havens
across our borders."

Terming Pakistan`s steps against terrorism as
"selective", Rao demanded that the perpetrators of the Mumbai
terror strikes are brought to justice expeditiously and act
decisively to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its
territory.

"Under pressure and faced with the threat of terrorism
in its own country, Pakistan has initiated some steps to fight
this scourge. But these steps are selective," the Foreign
Secretary said, adding that distinctions between Taliban, Al
Qaeda and terrorist outfits such as LeT were now meaningless.

"...they are now in effect fused both operationally
and ideologically. We have consistently maintained that
Pakistan should bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist
attack to justice and in a transparent manner," she said.

Rao also noted that terror groups implacably opposed
to India continue to recruit, train and plot attacks from
"safe havens across our borders."

"The greatest threat to peace and stability in our
region emanates from the shelter terrorists find in the border
of Afghanistan-Pakistan and in Pakistan itself," she said.
To a question on what she expected from the talks, Rao
said: "I think, I should leave any comment, till after the
meeting."

Asked whether Kashmir would figure at the talks, she
said "the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is something we must
discuss bilaterally and resolve peacefully. But at the talks
our core concern is terrorism and it is essential to focus on
it. We will move in a manner, slow and deliberately."

On Afghanistan, Rao said India`s focus is on
development activity with the aim to build indigenous Afghan
capacities and institutions.

"This will enable an effective state system to improve
the delivery of goods and services to Afghan people. Our
assistance, now over US$ 1.3 billion, is spread over a large
number of provinces in Afghanistan," she said.

To a question on clandestine activities in the
neighbourhood in respect of "nuclear terrorism", Rao said
India would tackle it through the UN process.

"India has initiated on the issue in cooperation with
Russia. The matter has been moved to the US and US President
Barack Obama is expected to endorse the initiative this year,"
she said.

On China, she said there is both competition and
collaboration in the dynamic equilibrium of India`s
relationship with Beijing.

Key elements in the India-China relationship like
imbalances in bilateral trade, the unresolved boundary
question, our dialogue on water resources with regard to the
trans-border rivers like the Brahmaputra and the Sutlej point
to the complex and evolving nature of our dialogue, she said.

"In our own region, which remains geo-politically
unstable, China has an enduring strategic relationship with
Pakistan, and a growing presence in other neighbouring
countries.

Rao said: "We are conscious of these leverages that
China has developed in our region and realize fully that our
relations with China cannot be uni-dimensional, or seen
through a narrow prism."

On Sri Lanka, Rao said India`s political relations are
close, trade and investment have increased exponentially, and
there is broad-based engagement across all sectors of
bilateral cooperation.

"We view the conclusion of the military operations
against the LTTE as providing an opportunity to finally
achieve a lasting political settlement acceptable to all
communities, including the Tamils, within a united Sri Lanka,"
she said.

On Bangaldesh, she said India`s relations with
Bangladesh have acquired further substance and scope in recent
months, particularly after the very successful visit of Prime
Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in January this year.

"Our security related cooperation has developed
positively as also our cooperation in infrastructural
development in Bangladesh, for which we have announced a USD 1
billion concessional Line of Credit," she said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, February 22, 2010 - 23:11

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