New Delhi, Aug.15 (ANI): Without making a direct reference to Pakistan or Bangladesh, which have, in the recent past, been centres from where terror strikes have been exported to India, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh on Saturday said New Delhi desired to have good relations with all of its neighbours, but was equally determined to neutralise the menacing threats of terrorism and naxalism.
Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on the occasion of the country's 63rd Independence Day, Dr. Singh said: "We want peace with our neighbours. We want to create an environment that will benefit the entire South Asia."
Referring to the horrific terror strikes on Mumbai in November last year, which claimed 166 lives and maimed over 300 others, Dr.Singh said terrorism and naxalism have emerged as the two greatest challenges to the nation, and the government is honour bound to redouble its efforts to tackle it.
He said that his government is consistently seeking to upgrade facilities for security forces and intelligence agencies as they had the prime responsibility of root out these menaces.
Expressing confidence that his government would succeed in its efforts with the cooperation of all sections of society, Dr. Singh said that the Centre would extend all help to the state governments to make their police forces more effective.
"Those who think that they can seize power by recourse to the gun do not understand the power of our democracy", he said.
"With the cooperation from all sections of society, we will succeed in achieving this," the Prime Minister said, adding that every effort would be made to remove the causes of social and economic dissatisfaction which give rise to these menaces.
Lauding to service and sacrifices made by the country's armed forces, paramilitaries and police force, Dr. Singh said hundreds of thousands of them had given "their today for our tomorrow", and therefore, it was enjoined upon all to remember these heroes and martyrs with dignity and pride.
He said that the government has taken steps such as one rank one pension and improved the pay scales and facilities of the armed forces on the basis of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.
He also said that the government has taken a decision to increase the pension of retired soldiers and Junior Commission Officers (JCOs), and added that this would benefit 12,00,000 ex-servicemen and their families.
"We have accepted the recommendations of the committee constituted to examine the issue of pension of ex-servicemen. This will lead to increased pension for about 12 lakh retired jawans and JCOs," Singh said.
"We are proud of our brave soldiers. It is our duty to ensure the ex-servicemen are able to lead a life of comfort," he added.
He also said that the country needed a foreign policy that should "work for India's interests in a changing world.
"We have succeeded in having such a policy to a great extent," he said.
Manmohan Singh said that India had good relations with the US, Japan, Russia and China. New Delhi was also improving its relations with countries of South East Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
India has cemented its traditional ties with Africa and was searching for new opportunities in South America, he said. (ANI)