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PM offers peace, security pact to Pak
Onkar Singh in Amritsar, with PTI | March 24, 2006 12:08 IST
Last Updated: March 24, 2006 17:04 IST
Taking another important step to normalise ties with Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today offered a "treaty of peace, security and friendship" to Pakistan as a culmination of the ongoing peace process.
At the same time, he termed as "a mistake" Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf linking the normalisation of bilateral relations with the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir issue and said India was not afraid of discussing pragmatic, practical solutions to it.
Flagging off the bus service linking the two Punjabs, from Amritsar to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, he also said a "meaningful agreement" was possible on issues like Siachen, Sir Creek and Baglihar.
"I have a vision that the peace-making process must ultimately culminate in our two countries entering into a treaty of peace, security and friendship to give meaning and substance to our quest for shared goals," Singh said. "I make this offer to the people of Pakistan on this historic occasion. I am sure the leadership of Pakistan will reciprocate."
The prime minister said, "The time has come to leave behind the animosities and misgivings of the past and to think the unthinkable."
Singh complimented Musharraf for taking "bold steps" to curb extremism but said, "More needs to be done in the interest of both India and Pakistan."
In a speech after flagging off the bus he said, "It would be a mistake to link normalisation of relations with finding a solution to Jammu and Kashmir. But we are not afraid of discussing Jammu and Kashmir or finding a pragmatic, practical solution to resolve this issue as well."
"I have a vision that the peace process must ultimately culminate in our two countries entering into a treaty of peace, security and friendship to give meaning and substance to our quest for shared goals," he said.
Singh also said he was extremely happy to be in the holy city of Amritsar on such an important occasion. He said the bus would link Sikhism's holiest cities, Amritsar and Nankana Sahib.
"This is indeed a memorable day for Punjab. This is a historic day for the Sikh panth in many ways and also for India and Pakistan," he said. Every morning all devout Sikhs prayed to "let us have free access to the gurdwaras left behind in Pakistan. Among the gurdwaras, Nankana Sahib is the holiest and most important.
"Our government put in a lot of effort to make the bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib a reality," he added.
He emphasised the need for two nations to work together in their economic interest and open up "new opportunities of economic cooperation, not only with South Asia, but also with West and Central Asia. Cities like Lahore and Amritsar should once again become throbbing international commercial centres serving the entire region."
Punjab's Transport Minister Mohinder Kaypee and senior government officials and their wives, academicians and three journalists were on board the bus that left for Nankana Sahib.