India admits dialogue with Pakistan way forward for normalization of relations

January 18, 2010 7:10 am 

NEW DELHI, Jan. 17 — Admitting that the dialogue with Pakistan was way forward for normalization of relations and for resolving all outstanding issues, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said on Sunday terrorism affected the climate of dialogue.

In an interview with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate programme, she said Indian wanted a secure, stable and peaceful Pakistan but it had to create the right atmosphere for dialogue to move forward.

When asked that the Pakistan High Commissioner in Delhi had said India at Sharm el-Sheikh had committed itself to action on terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialogue process and that dialogue was the only way forward, Nirupama Rao said that India had never turned back on dialogue with Pakistan.

“Dialogue between India and Pakistan is obviously the way forward for normalization of relations and to resolve outstanding issues between the two countries. We in India have never turned our back on dialogue with Pakistan. But let me also add that terrorism is a standalone phenomenon, that terrorism affects the climate of dialogue. It affects the progress of this dialogue. And when Pakistan refers to the need to resume Composite Dialogue, we say you have to create the right atmosphere for that dialogue to move forward,” she elaborated.

“I do not want to pronounce a judgment on the stability or otherwise of the leadership in Pakistan. We, as I said, would advocate and have advocated always the need for a stable, secure, a peaceful Pakistan because that helps the Pakistan people, it helps relations with India, it helps the neighborhood,” the Foreign Secretary said when asked to comment on internal situation in Pakistan.

To another question that whether President Zardari’s civilian Government are the right people to talk to, she said Indian deals with government of Pakistan and is also in touch with representatives of Pakistan.

“We deal with the Government of Pakistan. Obviously we have a diplomatic relationship with Pakistan. We are in touch with representatives of the Pakistan Government. For whatever reason, over and over again we are in contact. There are issues, humanitarian issues that exist between the two countries. So, that relationship continues to be transacted. The levels of dialogue obviously are much diminished after the Mumbai attacks,” she said.

She said India consistently and closely monitored developments in Pakistan.

“It is our neighbor. It is a country that is next door to us. And, as I said, events, developments in Pakistan are of relevance to the entire region. And obviously the growth of civil society, the strengthening of democratic institutions in Pakistan is good for our future,” she said.

At the same she said “really, to speak out on Pakistan’s internal affairs I think would not be advisable.”

When asked whether Indian Government’s refusal to talk seems to have hardened attitudes in Pakistan and there is a simmering anger towards India, she alleged it was a matter of concern that people of Pakistan were being fed with slanted and biased accounts about attitude of India.

“It is a matter of concern that the people of Pakistan are being fed with slanted and biased accounts of what India’s attitude may be. India’s attitude is for dialogue and to promote peaceful resolution of problems with Pakistan. But, all of us who have grown up against the background of what has happened in this relationship. (PNA/APP)

DCT/rsm

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