PM coins 'trust but verify' mantra for Pak

Manmohan says joint statement does not dilute national position

PM coins 'trust but verify' mantra for Pak

A TV grab shows Prime Minister Manmohan Singh makes statement before the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. PTIThe Prime Minister said that India and Pakistan, the two nuclear neighbours in South Asia, would have to begin to trust each other, but not blindly.

“Let me say that in the affairs of two neighbours we should recall what President (Ronald) Reagan once said – trust but verify. There is no other way unless we go to war,” said Singh.
Intervening during a debate in the Lower House on the controversial joint statement issued after his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Egypt’s Sharm-El-Sheikh city on July 16 last, Singh strongly advocated engagement and dialogue with Islamabad.

National position

He, however, added that he stood by the “national position” that India could not move forward in its efforts to live in peace with Pakistan as long as it would continue to be a victim of terrorist attacks launched from its western neighbour. 

Singh told the House that New Delhi and Islamabad could have a meaningful dialogue, only if Pakistan fulfilled its commitment, in letter and spirit, not to allow its territory to be used for terrorist activities against India.

The UPA Government has been under attack from the BJP and other Opposition parties over the Sharm-el-Sheikh statement as it delinked the composite dialogue between the two countries and Islamabad’s actions against terrorists based in Pakistan.

A section of the Congress and other UPA constituents too have expressed reservations about the statement, which allegedly reflected a climb-down from New Delhi’s post 26/11 position.

India and Pakistan began the composite dialogue in February 2004. But New Delhi suspended the process in the wake of the attacks in Mumbai on November 26, last year, stating that it would not be resumed unless Islamabad brought the masterminds and perpetrators of 26/11 to justice and dismantled all terrorist facilities.

Singh’s defence

On Wednesday, Singh defended the statement, which he said had only made provisions for meetings between the two foreign secretaries followed by one between the foreign ministers.

“The joint statement emphasised that action on terrorism cannot be linked to dialogue. Pakistan knows very well that with terrorism being such a mortal and global threat, no civilised country can set terms and conditions for rooting it out,” Singh said.

He said the two sides had agreed in the Sharm-El-Sheikh statement to share real-time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats.

Balochistan issue

The reference to Balochistan in the Indo-Pak statement too had drawn flak from the Opposition, but Singh said it reflected New Delhi’s position that it was ready to discuss with Islamabad any “misgivings” about the troubled Pakistani province, as it had done nothing wrong.

He said that Gilani told him that many Pakistanis thought that India meddled in Balochistan. “I told him that we have no interest in destabilising Pakistan, nor do we harbour any ill intent towards Pakistan,” he said.

Singh rubbished Islamabad’s allegation that Indian consulates in Afghanistan were involved in activities against Pakistan.

He also denied receiving any dossier from Gilani containing evidence of India’s alleged role in fomenting unrest in Balochistan.

DH News Service

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