'A strong and stable Pakistan is in India's interest'
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday sent out a strong message to Pakistan, urging the neighbouring nation to recognise the "monster of terrorism" which it had unleashed at one time.
Speaking on board Air India One while returning from his six-day trip to African nations, the PM said that terrorism was today hurting Pakistan as much as it could hurt any country.
When queried about the situation in Pakistan, in the wake of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden being hunted down by United States' forces in Abbottabad near Islamabad, Dr Singh said, "What happens in our neighbourhood matters a great deal".
He added, "I have always maintained that a strong and stable Pakistan is in the interest of our country and therefore events there worry us. It is in against this backdrop that we have to look at our relations with Pakistan".
Reportage: Vicky Nanjappa on board Air India One
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on board Air India One
Photographs: Vicky Nanjappa
'As Pakistan's neighbour, we have great worries'
On the ongoing trial of Mumbai terror attack accused Tahawwur Rana in Chicago, in which Lashkar-e-tayiba operative David Headley is the prime witness, the PM said, "It goes without saying that we must use every possible opportunity to talk to Pakistan and convince them that terror as an instrument of state policy is simply not acceptable to people in the civilised world".
Headley has admitted that officials of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence helped him plot the attack.
"As Pakistan's neighbour, we have great worries about the terror machine that is still intact in Pakistan. We would like Pakistan to take much more effective action to curb the activities of those jihadi groups which particularly target a country like India," he said.
Image: An exhibit by the US attorney's office in the ongoing trial of Tahawwur Rana in a Chicago court
'It is in Pakistan's interest to help us'
Reacting to Headley's shocking confessions, Dr Singh said, "Well, this trial has not brought out anything new that we didn't know. The trial is still on, we will look at it once it is complete. But as I said earlier, it has not revealed anything which we didn't know".
On the initiative that India needs to take against Pakistan in the wake of Headley's revelation, the PM said, "We must look at two separate fronts. One is the bilateral negotiations with Pakistan -- we must convince them that it is in their own interest that they help us tackle the problem of terror in our region. Jihadi groups that target India, as a destination for their terror, must be effectively curbed and dealt with. That is an ongoing process and at every opportunity that we have we should continue to impress upon Pakistan".
The second item on the agenda, said the PM, was the "global concern about terrorism".
Image: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel under terror siege during the 26/11 attacks
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
'The epicentre of terror is in our neighbourhood'
"The world has seen, as never before, that the epicentre of terror is in our neighbourhood. They appreciate India's point and it should be our effort to mobilise world opinion to ensure that this terror machinery which operates in our neighbourhood in Pakistan is brought under control," he said.
Though he admitted that he has not made up his mind about visiting Pakistan any time soon, Dr Singh said, "I believe that good relations between India and all its neighbours are desirable and indeed essential for us in South Asia to realise our development ambitions. The more I see of what's happening in Pakistan, the more I am convinced that Pakistan's leadership should now wake up and recognise that the terror machine they have or which some elements in the country patronise is not working to anybody's advantage".
But the PM remained tight-lipped about the 2G scam, which has rocked the ruling United Progressive Alliance collation at the Centre due to the alleged involvement of its ally DMK in it. Pointing out that the Central Bureau of Investigation was probing the case, Dr Singh said, "It would not be proper for me to make any comments about the progress of the case".
But he asserted, "As of now, the DMK is our partner and there is no change in that".
Image: Relatives and officials offer a funeral prayer for Navy officer Lieutenant Yasir Abbas, who was killed when militants attacked the Mehran naval aviation base in Karachi, before his burial in Lahore
Photographs: Mohsin Raza/Reuters
'The people of Kerala and West Bengal have spoken'
The PM also talked about the development goals he envisaged for India, saying, "I have outlined in my speech on the occasion of the second anniversary of the UPA government that our basic agenda is to accelerate the tempo of economic growth to ensure that our country grows at the rate of 9 to 10 per cent per annum and also ensure that it benefits all communities".
Speaking on the setbacks suffered by the Left Front in the recently held elections in West Bengal and Kerala, the PM said, "I am not an expert on Left politics. The people of Kerala and West Bengal have spoken and that is a telling manifestation that Left politics also has to learn important lessons about the functioning of our polity".
Image: The party symbol of the CPI-M
'Those who exercise power don't want to give it up'
When his comments were sought about France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde being the front-runner for the post of the International Monetary Fund's chief, he said, "It is not proper for me to discuss individual names. We are in touch with various countries and we hope that at the end of it, a consensus would emerge. I do see that there is a desire in Europe to have a European occupying this coveted position".
But Dr Singh added, "We would like to remind the industrialised world that the top positions in international financial institutions must not go to specific countries as a matter of right but the best available talent in the world should be available to man these institutions. However, you do recognise that those who exercise power don't want to give up power and hence the struggle for a better balanced world order or a more equitable world order including the management of global institutions like the IMF, World Bank, United Nations Security Council is going to be a long haul I am afraid".
Image: France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde
'India has not ceased to be a profitable destination'
On complaints of bureaucratic delays hampering India's chances as an investment destination, Dr Singh said that he did not agree with the proposition that India was no longer a preferred or hospitable destination for foreign investment inflows.
"Investment flows may have ebbed but there are events beyond India's control -- the fact that the American economy has staged a recovery of sorts, the fact that interest rates are going up, that limits some flows which were coming in, which were coming here to take advantage of interest arbitrage. But I don't buy the argument that India has ceased to be a hospitable and profitable destination for foreign investment," he said.