No rift over Indo-Pak statement: PM

'Government has all answers, will clarify in Parliament'

Prime Minister Manmohan SinghA day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi had a meeting with the prime minister and other top leaders of the party, Singh told the journalists that the government had “all relevant answers” to the questions being raised over the joint statement issued after the meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in the Egyptian city of Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Talking to journalists at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the prime minister also indicated that he would defend the statement during the debate on the issue in Parliament on Wednesday.

“I have made a statement in Parliament. And Parliament is again going to discuss the issue. I will clarify,” said the prime minister who had found himself under attack both within the ruling Congress and from the opposition after returning from Sharm-el-Sheikh.
Sources said Gandhi had sent word down the Congress hierarchy that the party must be seen united and backing the prime minister on the issue.

The ruling party is believed to have firmed up its stand on the controversy during a meeting of its “core committee” here late in the evening on Friday.

Apart from Gandhi and Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Congress president’s political secretary Ahmed Patel attended the meeting.  The prime minister, however, dismissed as “creation by the media” the reported difference of opinion between the government and the ruling party on the issue. He refused to speak much on the joint statement and said that it would be inappropriate for him to reply to any specific queries on the issue, pending a discussion on the issue in Parliament.

The Indo-Pak joint statement issued on July 16 last triggered criticism as it de-linked the composite dialogue between the two countries and Islamabad’s actions against terrorists based in Pakistan. Singh on July 17 told both Houses of Parliament that Delhi’s stand on engagement with Islamabad had not been diluted by the joint statement.
India and Pakistan had started the peace-process in February 2004, but New Delhi suspended it in the wake of the attacks in Mumbai on November 26, last year. Pakistan has been insisting on re-starting the parleys over the past few months.

Diplomatic pressure

The US also put diplomatic pressure on India to soften its seven-month-old stand that the composite dialogue would not resume unless Islamabad brings the masterminds and perpetrators of the 26/11 attack to justice and dismantle all terrorist facilities in Pakistan.
The government has also been slammed by the Opposition for allowing Pakistan to make a reference to the troubled region of Balochistan in the joint statement.

The Indo-Pak joint statement resulted in disquiet within the Congress, too, with several leaders questioning within the party the rationale of yielding and giving concession to Pakistan.

Critics of the statement apprehended that the reference to Balochistan in the Indo-Pak joint statement had given a diplomatic advantage to Islamabad, which blames Delhi of fomenting trouble in the region.

DH News Service


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