Barely 40 hours after he described his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani as a man of peace,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday qualified his remarks,saying that he is not putting any blind faith in any individual and his approach to Pakistan has been trust but verify.
On his way back from the Maldives where he attended the SAARC Summit,Singh said although he is an optimist,India-Pakistan relationship has been subject to accidents and therefore,there is realisation on both sides that if there is another incident like Mumbai (terror attack),it will be a setback to our process of normalisation.
Asked whether the Pakistani leadership had the backing of the armed forces in pursuing the peace process,Singh said he had discussed the issue with his Pakistani counterpart. The feeling I got was that after a long time Pakistans armed forces are on board, Singh said.
This came in the backdrop of Pakistans Foreign Minister Hina Rabbai Khars statement that the Army was a stakeholder in the dialogue process with India.
On what prompted him to call Gilani a man of peace,Singh said he had had four or five meetings with him. Gilani agreed there was no way except to find peaceful resolution of all bilateral issues and terrorism was not helping the process. In fact,he has no hesitation in accepting that terrorism is a common enemy,and it has not helped advance Pakistans cause. Pakistan has a democratic government and 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 Gilani Pakistan has a Prime Minister who is ready to work with us, said Singh. He said,It is not that we are putting blind faith in one individual,however well-meaning he may be.
Singh and Gilani agreed that a fresh round of dialogue should start and it will be imperative in the development of trade relations and the willingness of Pakistan to discuss all issues including terrorism.
So I come back with the expectation that the second round of dialogue 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. We both recognised that if there is another incident like Mumbai,it would be a setback to the process of normalisation. I think that has been clearly understood by Prime Minister Gilani, said Singh.
He added that he left Gilani in no doubt that until the Indian public opinion is satisfied that justice has been done against those responsible for Mumbai attacks,the peace process cannot move forward.
He said Indias approach to Pakistan is trust but verify. Asked how tangible was the approach,he said the day India gets solid evidence that Pakistan is involved in fuelling terror,that will send totally negative signals.
Asked about Gilanis invitation to him to visit Pakistan,Singh said he has accepted it but the right time for it would be when the two countries do some solid business together.