Public opinion against reviving dialogue with Pakistan: India (Lead)

Washington, Nov 24 ( On the eve of the first 26/11 anniversary, India has made it clear that the present situation is not conducive for the resumption of dialogue with Pakistan in the absence of Islamabad’s action against terror and stressed that public opinion was against any talks.

Manmohan Singh, however, made a limited conditional offer to resume the peace dialogue with Pakistan and resolve all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, provided it abjures terrorism and comes to the table with good faith and sincerity.

“My government has invested heavily over the past few years in normalising relations with Pakistan,” he said Monday in an address to the Council On Foreign Relations (CFR), a leading US think-tank.

He recalled that the two countries had “made considerable progress on the road to a durable and permanent settlement of all outstanding issues” before the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks stalled the peace dialogue. “I have said that we are ready to pick up the threads of the dialogue, including on issues related to Jammu and Kashmir.”

“We seek a South Asia of peace, friendship and prosperity, where its borders will be energised by the flow of people, goods and ideas.”

“For this to happen, Pakistan must make a break with the past, abjure terrorism and come to the table with good faith and sincerity,” the prime minister said. He expressed his “solemn hope that India and Pakistan can together move forward to write a new chapter in the history of the subcontinent”.

Noting that the first anniversary of the heinous and barbaric terrorist attacks on Mumbai was three days away, he said: “The trauma of that attack continues to haunt us. Terrorism poses an existential threat to the civilised world and must be defeated.”

“We should not harbour any illusions that a selective approach to terrorism, tackling it in one place while ignoring it in others, will work,” he said.

“The present situation is not conducive to the resumption of dialogue with Pakistan,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters here.

Rao underscored India’s mounting exasperation over lack of adequate action by Pakistan against the Mumbai terrorists and the larger anti-India terror infrastructure.

“For this dialogue to regain momentum, we will need to have progress by Pakistan to take action against terrorism,” Rao said while briefing reporters about Manmohan Singh’s meeting with a group of US Congressmen and Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

“The weight of public opinion is against it. The mood of the people, the mood of the parliament is against it,” Rao said ahead of the meeting of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.

Rao also underlined the need by the US to exercise greater vigil and oversight over billions of dollars given in aid to Pakistan. “We emphasised the need to have greater accountability,” she said.

“Our experience has been an unhappy one. They (US) are conscious of our concerns,” she said while indicating India’s greater congruence with the US over issues relating to India and Pakistan.