'PM for normal ties with Pak, Cong unsupportive'

Posted By: Teronpi
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Thimpu, Apr 28: Pakistan Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was willing to normalise ties but he was held back by his fellow Congress members.

Speaking in a news agency report, the Pakistan Foreign Minister slammed India's decision to stall talks with Pakistan until the later takes action against terrorism, stating that the condition was 'dragged too long' and 'nobody is buying that anymore'.

"Dialogue is the only sensible thing to do. Two prime ministers of this region, two important countries of this region, have to sit and work out (bilateral issues)," said Qureshi who is here to attend the two-day Saarc summit that got off today.

He said that despite Pakistan's attempts to have a dialogue, "it seems India is not yet ready, perhaps because of domestic political considerations".

Qureshi expressed confidence that Prime Minister was willing to hold dialogues with Pakistan, but "elements in Congress" did not support him.

"I am convinced that prime minister Manmohan Singh wants to move forward," he said.

"I think, he (Singh) is a well meaning individual, he has a vision, he wants to leave a legacy behind, he is an academic, he is an economist. He understands the benefits that can accrue to the region if there is normalisation between two important players of the Saarc region. But it seems that elements within the Congress are not giving him the support he should be given".

However, he declined from naming those elements.

He said that both India and Pakistan realise that dialogue is the only solution, but still there is a reluctance on India's part.

"If that is so, how can we have dialogue not engagement? Pakistan has never shied from the engagement. We have said we are ready".

On India's decision not to resume dialogue with Pakistan until it takes appropriate measure against the terrorist, he said that the contention has been dragged for too long.

"That has been dragged too long, nobody is buying that anymore because Pakistan has moved considerably forward on that score on the perpetrators of Mumbai".

Qureshi said that Pakistan has taken appropriate action against the perpetrators of Mumbai terror attacks, adding that their response to the India's dossier was not to gain more time but it was actually to arrive at a logical conclusion with the help of the additional information.

"You got to recognise that... What you are not realising that Pakistan today is in a different state of mind. Pakistan has woken up to the challenge of terrorism. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism," Qureshi said.

"You are talking of Mumbai, we have had many Mumbais in all the major cities of Pakistan. Innocent lives have been lost like innocent lives were lost in Mumbai," he said.

On India's displeasure at inaction against Lashkar-e-Toiba, while it was carrying out operations against the Taliban, he said "We do not differentiate. We are not differentiating between acts of terrorism. An act of terrorism is an act of terrorism, period".

When the name of Hafiz Saeed was mentioned, he cryptically said, "same old beaten track".

"Saeed was arrested twice by Pakistan government but courts let him off "because in the eyes of the judicial process, the evidence against him was not strong enough to keep him locked up. That is a legal process. You have an independent judiciary, so do we," he said.

When his attention was drawn to LeT chief Hafiz Saeed against whom India wants action, he cryptically said, "same old beaten track".

On whether evidence was being collected against Saeed by Pakistan to trace his terror links, he said, "Pakistan has, is and will continue to try and collect evidence against any terrorist. We do not want our soil to be used against anyone".

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