New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh insisted on Wednesday that it is time for peace with neighbouring Pakistan, but warned that relations between the two nuclear-armed rivals were still “under considerable stress” in the wake of last year’s terror attack in Mumbai.
Speaking a day after his first meeting with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari since the Mumbai siege, the Prime Minister said Islamabad had to take “strong and effective” action to end terrorism against India.
The three-day siege in Mumbai last year had killed 166 people. India has accused a Pakistan-based militant group of sending the teams of gunmen that rampaged through the city, and Pakistani officials have acknowledged the November attacks were partly plotted on their soil.
Formal peace talks between the two countries that had started in 2004 were put on hold after the Mumbai attacks.
If Pakistan shows “courage, determination and statesmanship to take the high road to peace, India will meet it more than half the way”, Singh said, according to Indian media reports and television footage. He was speaking to reporters on board his airplane on his way back from a pair of summits in Russia.
Singh said India-Pakistani relations “remain under considerable stress and strain, the primary cause of which is terrorist attacks against India emanating from Pakistani territory”.
India “must try again to make peace with Pakistan”, Singh said. But he also said he told Zardari that Pakistan had to “take strong and effective action to prevent the use of Pakistani territory for attacks against India and bring to justice perpetrators of past attacks”.
Islamabad also must “dismantle the infrastructure of terror in Pakistan”, Singh said.
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s statements, Islamabad on Wednesday said his remarks were unacceptable.
In a statement made in Pakistan’s upper house of Parliament, minister of state for foreign affairs Malik Amad Khan said Singh’s comments made during his meeting with Zardari in Russia on Tuesday were unacceptable to Islamabad.
PTI contributed to this story.