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There is trust deficit between India, Pak

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Brasilia, Brazil
September 12, 2006 08:40 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said the peace talks with Pakistan was on track but there was a problem of trust deficit between both the countries.

"I have said more than once that I can't carry Indian public opinion with me if terrorist acts continue on Indian soil. Whatever be the cause, it puts a damper on the relations," Dr Singh said.

India had called off the foreign secretary level talks -- part of the comprehensive process -- after the 7/11 Mumbai blasts.

However things could change as Dr Singh is likely to meet Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in Havana either on September 15 or 16.

This would be the first meet of the two leaders after the Mumbai blasts.

"Whether in Mumbai or elsewhere, if terrorist acts take place on Indian soil then it certainly vitiates the climate. Terrorism today constitutes a threat for both the countries.

Both of us should be serious to tackle the menace. That's the minimum I feel both the governments should commit and achieve it," added Dr Singh.

Asked what the point is in talking to President Musharraf considering he has been doing a U-turn whenever there is a terror attack on Indian soil by the Pakistani based jihadi organisations, Dr Singh said, "We have to take adequate precautions but General Pervez Musharraf is the president of Paksitan and we have to deal with whosever is in power in Pakistan.

"I have always said that the destinies of both countries are strongly inter-linked and the full development potential of the sub continent cannot be realised unless there is reconciliation between India and Pakistan."

On the discussion with Musharraf, Dr Singh said, "I will share with General Musharraf our perceptions of what's the role of external elements in promoting terrorism in our country.

"I will particularly exchange the views on the commitment of Pakistan to not to allow Pakistan territory, and that includes parts of Jammu & Kashmir which is in their occupation, to mount terrorist attacks against India."

Dr Singh also clarified that peace talks with Pakistan had not slowed down or come to halt as being perceived and progress was being made in the right direction.

"I think we have progressed considerably over the last two years. Transportation routes have been opened up not only between Jammu & Kashmir but also between our Punjab and their Punjab, Amritsar and Nankana Sahib, Munnabao and Kokrapar," said Dr Singh.

"Two years ago, you could not say we would allow the Hurriyat to travel freely wherever they want to go. They have been going in all directions. It is an unprecedented development.

"People of both countries including the two parts of Jammu & Kashmir are meeting frequently to discuss possibilities of co-operation. So, I don't know if it's correct to say that no progress has been made."

Asked if it would be better for India to deal with a democratic government than a dictator, Dr Singh said, "The general perception is that democracy is good for the people of the world but what system prevails in Pakistan is for the people of Pakistan to decide."

Speaking on terrorism within Pakistan, Dr Singh concluded, "Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism. These groups, whether it is the Lashkar-e-Tayiba or the Jaish-e-Mohammad, they act autonomously. And I feel the Pakistan government has not done enough to control these elements."

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Brasilia, Brazil