ISTANBUL: Coming down heavily on Pakistan, President Pranab Mukherjee has said unless it dismantles the terror infrastructure on its soil, there is no scope for progress in talks between the two countries.
“Unless that atmosphere is created, how could you talk about other developments? Therefore, we do hope that what Nawaz Sharif stated, he will try to implement that,” Mukherjee said in an interview to Turkish newspaper ‘Today’s Zaman’.
The President exhorted that a “serious effort” should be made by Pakistan on this subject as he said most terrorist activities against India are emanating from “territories under the control of Pakistan.”
“Let the appropriate atmosphere be created. The actual line of control on which the ceasefire exists, it has been violated.”
He also expressed happiness over the steps taken by the two countries to resolve their differences.
“And I am glad that both Prime Ministers have agreed to direct their officers, Director Generals of Military Operations…to sit down and resolve this issue in the framework of the 1972 agreement, which is more popularly known as the Simla Agreement, between Mrs Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan.”
“That is the framework we can use to resolve all issues through dialogue. But for that peace is needed. Serious effort should be made by Pakistan. This is our appeal to assure that their territory is not being used to carry on terrorist activities against India,” he said.
He said both the countries have a lot of mechanisms to talk to each other on issues related to terror and territorial integrity.
“So far as our relation with Pakistan is concerned, there are regular institutional arrangements. Also one point is to be kept in view, the commitment which was made by Pakistan, not now but in 2004, that Pakistani territory will not be allowed to be used by the forces inimical to India.
“But most of the terrorist activities are emanating from the territories under the control of Pakistan. Therefore, in the recent talks which have taken place on September 29 in New York at the margin of UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) between the Prime Ministers Dr Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif, India has highlighted emphasis on these aspects,” Mukherjee said.
“We appreciate the gestures of Nawaz Sharif shown towards India even immediately after assuming office. And there is communality in our approach. We do believe that we can expand our cooperation in trade, investment, economic sectors, but for that the appropriate conducive atmosphere must be there,” the President said.
Mukherjee also reminded Pakistan about its commitment to bring to book the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
“India desires peaceful, friendly and cooperative relations with Pakistan, which require an environment free from terror and violence. India is firmly resolved to combat and defeat the terrorist menace that continues to receive encouragement and reinforcement from across the border.
“We have consistently stressed the need for Pakistan to honor its solemn commitment of not allowing territory under its control to be used for terrorism directed against India in any manner. Pakistan must also show determined action to dismantle the terrorist networks, organizations and infrastructure operating from territories under its control,” he said.
Mukherjee said that Indians expect that Pakistan will show “tangible movement in investigating and bringing to justice quickly those Pakistanis responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attack in November 2008, including those whose trial is presently underway in Islamabad.”
“India remains committed to the resolution of all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including those pertaining to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, through a peaceful bilateral dialogue as mutually agreed under the Simla Agreement of 1972.
“For this dialogue to progress meaningfully, an environment free from cross-border terrorism and violence along the Line of Control is an essential prerequisite,” he said. Talking about the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the President said that there could be no military solution to the conflict.
“The continuing violence in Syria and the humanitarian crisis arising out of it are of deep concern to us. India has consistently called upon all sides to abjure violence so that conditions can be created for an inclusive political dialogue leading to a comprehensive political solution, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria.
He said India’s policy on Syria has been guided by its long-standing ties with the region as well as its vital economic, energy and Diaspora interests.
“We believe that there can be no military solution to this conflict. The reported use of chemical weapons in Syria is a matter of deep concern. India has consistently supported the complete destruction and elimination of chemical weapons worldwide.
He also welcomed the framework agreement reached between Russia and the US for destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.
“India has welcomed the framework agreement reached between Russia and the US on the time-bound safeguarding and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles as well as the recent steps taken by Syria to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“We hope that the recent peace efforts will lead to early convening of the proposed ‘International Conference on Syria’ (Geneva-II), under the auspices of UN, which will bring all parties involved in the Syrian conflict to the negotiating table for peaceful resolution of the crisis,” he said.
Talking about Afghanistan, the President said all interested countries will have to continue their engagement in the country.
“For stability in Afghanistan, it is essential that the international community remains engaged in Afghanistan and supports it in this process of transition and transformation.
It is also essential that the root cause of problems in Afghanistan, which is terrorism emanating from beyond the borders of Afghanistan, is tackled firmly,” he said.
“India believes that Afghanistan can play its historical role as the hub of inter-regional trade, stemming from the country’s strategic location at the crossroads of West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia.
“A strong, self-sustainable and viable Afghan state in the post-2014 situation warrants developing alternate corridors of trade, transport and energy, thereby enmeshing Afghanistan in a network of mutually inclusive trade channels and assisting the transformation of Afghanistan from being an aid-based economy to a trade-based economy in the coming years.
“This, of course, is contingent upon Afghanistan having smooth transit and access to the regional markets and seaports through its immediate neighbors,” he said.
The President, who is in Istanbul for a three-day visit, said India expects to enhance its defense cooperation with Turkey.
“Defense cooperation is indeed one of the areas in which there is potential to expand interaction with Turkey. During the visit of the Turkish PM (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan to India in November 2008, both Prime Ministers agreed to enhance cooperation between two defense forces through military-to-military contacts and training exchanges.
“A bilateral Defense Cooperation Agreement has been proposed to be signed, and is under consideration with the Turkish side for some time now,” he said.
Mukherjee, during the interaction, said both India and Turkey are witnessing an increase in mutual investments.
“India-Turkey trade had increased steadily, reaching over USD 7 billion in 2011, well surpassing the target set for USD 5 billion for 2010.
“Investments are increasing in both directions. More than 100 Indian companies have registered businesses in Turkey in the form of joint ventures, trade and representative offices.
Indian companies have interest in infrastructure projects as well as in the automobile sector, energy and steel. The number of Turkish companies in India is also increasing, including in the roads and highways sector and construction of pipelines,” he said. -PTI