Pak analysts `disappointed` with PM`s statement

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - 22:49

Islamabad: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s
assertion that relations between India and Pakistan cannot be
normalised till the latter cracks down on terrorism emanating
from its soil goes against the spirit of the joint statement
issued in Sharm el-Sheikh, Pakistani analysts said on Wednesday.

Singh`s statement in Parliament was "disappointing" and
would only strengthen the hands of hardliners who do not want
good ties with India, said Ikram Sehgal, the editor of Defence
Journal, a leading publication on strategic affairs.

"Terrorism is a big problem for both India and Pakistan.
We have paid a big price in our operations against the
Taliban. But the attitude displayed by Prime Minister Singh,
especially after the massive mandate secured by his Congress
party in the recent polls, leaves no hope for South Asia,"
Sehgal, a retired army officer, said.

Pakistan has acknowledged the Mumbai attacks were carried
out by Pakistani terrorists though there was no official
sanction for the assault and people were expecting more
conciliatory gestures during Singh`s address, he said.

Singh`s address was carried live by most TV news channels
and eagerly watched by government officials here.

Singh dismissed the opposition BJP`s criticism of joint
statement issued after the July 16 meeting with his Pakistani
counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, which said the resumption of
dialogue should not be linked to action against terrorism.

Rejecting the BJP`s contention that his government had
gone soft on Pakistan, Singh said the neighbouring country
must "act effectively against terrorism" before suspended
peace talks are resumed. It is India`s obligation to keep
channels of communication open with Pakistan, he added.

Pakistani analysts said Singh`s address made it clear he
was under pressure from the opposition and facing harsh
criticism for the joint statement in Sharm el-Sheikh.

"It is for this reason that Singh reiterated to his
Indian audience that Pakistan must take action against the
perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks," said security analyst
Sultan M Hali.

However, some analysts noted that Singh had also
acknowledged in his speech that Pakistan had, for the first
time, acted against persons responsible for a terrorist attack
on foreign soil and also shared the findings of its probe into
the Mumbai attacks with India.

Hali said this aspect of Singh`s speech made it clear the
Indian premier was "convinced that Pakistan is serious" about
tackling terrorism.

Lt Gen (retired) Talat Masood, one of Pakistan’s leading
defence analysts, said this was the only "good part" of
Singh`s speech. "Prime Minister Singh is trying to say
something that was not in the joint statement but he has
acknowledged that Pakistan has done a lot. He has also
signalled that he would be willing to proceed if Pakistan
continues on the same path," Masood said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - 22:49

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