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I'm told daily of attacks planned in Pak: Dr Singh

By Lalit K Jha
November 20, 2009 12:13 IST
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Terming as 'tragic', Pakistan's use of terror as State policy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said India is ready to resolve all outstanding issues with the country on the condition that it will not allow its territory to be used against its neighbour.

In an interview to the Washington Post ahead of his State visit to the US, Dr Singh said India has been a victim of Pakistan-aided terrorism, and intelligence reports still suggest that terrorists based in that country are planning attacks in India similar to last year's Mumbai carnage.

'Every day I receive intelligence reports saying that terrorists based in Pakistan are planning other similar acts,' Dr Singh said in the interview that would be carried in the daily's print edition on Sunday -- the day of his arrival in Washington.

He, however, asserted that Pakistan has 'nothing to fear' from India, and it was a 'tragedy' that Pakistan has come to the point of using terror 'as an instrument of state policy'.

'We are committed to resolve all the outstanding issues with Pakistan through bilateral negotiations. Our only condition is that Pakistan should not allow its territory to be used for acts of terrorism against India. If Pakistan really honours that commitment, we can go back to negotiation to resolve all outstanding issues between us,' he said.

Noting that India has been a victim of 'Pakistan-aided-abetted-and-inspired terrorism for nearly 25 years', Dr Singh said India wanted the US to use all its influence with Pakistan to ask it desist from that path.

Asked about actions being taken by Pakistan to bring to book those involved in the Mumbai terror attack, the prime minister said they have not done enough.

'As far as perpetrators of the Mumbai massacre are concerned, (Pakistan) has taken some steps but not enough,' he said.

Dr Singh also expressed concern about the rise of terrorism in Pakistan and said terrorists' increasing grip over several parts of the country was a threat to India's security as well.

'Now if the Taliban and Al-Qaeda type of terror, which in the past was located in Pakistan's FATA, gets transferred to the mainland of Pakistan, I think it has very serious consequences for our own security,' he said.

'We would not like terrorism to lead to a situation where civilian government is only a nominal government,' he said.

Dr Singh said there appears to be a mismatch between the US' and Pakistan's objectives in Afghanistan and observed that he does not see Islamabad fully committed to the war against terrorism.

'As far as Afghanistan is concerned, I am not sure whether the US and Pakistan have the same objectives,' he said.

While Pakistan, he said, would like the US to get out of Afghanistan soon, the US objectives are to get Pakistan to deal with the Taliban.

'Pakistan would like Afghanistan to be under its control... I don't see Pakistan wholeheartedly in support of action against the Taliban in Afghanistan," Dr Singh told The Post.

'They are of course taking action against Taliban, but only when it threatens the supremacy of the army," he said.

Hoping that the US and the global community will stay involved in Afghanistan, Dr Singh said a victory for the Taliban would have 'catastrophic consequences' for the world, particularly for South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.

'We (in India) of course have more immediate concerns. We are victims of terrorism and the extremist ideologies of the type that the Taliban represent. If this is not checked, this could destabilise our country,' the prime minister said.

Responding to a question, Dr Singh said Al Qaeda and Taliban are chips off the same block.

Though he agreed that the regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai is not perfect, he asked the international community to rally behind him now that he has been re-elected.     

'President Karzai's regime is not perfect... But you cannot transform Afghanistan overnight. It is going to be a long-term affair. Democracy, as the West understands it, may not be introduced in a short period of time in Afghanistan,' he said.

'But the very fact that millions of Afghan children, including millions of girls, are now in school, when none was in school when the Taliban was in power, shows some human freedom. One has to take a balanced view,' he said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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