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Pakistan army on board, says Singh

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.—AFP Photo—Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on
Saturday that a second round of talks with Islamabad would begin soon
and believes the Pakistan army was on board with the peace process he
discussed with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani this week.

Speaking
to Indian reporters on his way home from the Maldives, Dr Singh
defended his description of Mr Gilani as a man of peace, but said it did
not imply trusting anyone blindly. The India-Pakistan peace process was
subject to accidents, the Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted him as
warning.
He said India wanted to strengthen the hands of the
civilian government in Pakistan and that Mr Gilani, whom he met in Male
on Thursday, had “clearly understood” that one more Mumbai-like attack
would be a big setback in the peace process.
According to the PTI,
he said his visit to Pakistan would take place only after Pakistan took
solid steps against the Mumbai terror attack accused in that country.
“I
would not like to go into the details of this matter. But when I did
discuss with Pakistan Prime Minister whether Pakistan’s armed forces
were on board, the feeling I got after a long time was that Pakistan’s
armed forces were on board.”
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had claimed earlier that the Pakistan army was on board the peace initiatives with India.
About
Mr Gilani, his “man of peace”, Dr Singh said he had met him four or
five times and every time they discussed bilateral issues, his
counterpart had agreed that there was no way forward except for peaceful
resolution of all problems and that terrorism was not helping the
process.
“In fact, he (Mr Gilani) has gone ahead and expressed his
reservations that terrorism is a common enemy, it (terrorism) has not
helped advance Pakistan’s cause. I tend to believe that Pakistan has a
democratic government. We would like to strengthen the hands of the
democratic government.
“In the desire for normalising the
relations, trade and terror-related issues, I think, in Mr Gilani
Pakistan has a prime minister who is ready to work with us,” he said.
“It is not that we are putting blind faith in one individual, however
well-meaning he may be. PM Gilani and I believe in normalisation of
relations.”
Dr Singh said he and Mr Gilani agreed that the resumed
round of dialogue should start and it will be imperative in the
development of trade relations with the changing attitude of Pakistan by
giving Most Favoured Nation (MFN) and the willingness of Pakistan to
discuss all issues, including that of terrorism.
“So I come back
(from Male) with the expectation that the second round with Pakistan
will begin very shortly. But what will be the outcome of the dialogue I
cannot say now because Indo-Pak relations are subject to accidents,” he
added.
“We both recognised that if there is one (more) incident
like Mumbai attack, then that would be a big setback. I think that has
been clearly understood by PM Gilani,” he said.

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