India puts terror on top for Pak talks
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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.


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

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