NEW DELHI: India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today he wanted peace with arch-rival Pakistan and said he would meet Islamabad “more than halfway” if it cracked down on Islamic militants.
The apparent effort to reach out to Pakistan comes after months of tensions following last year’s Mumbai attacks, in which 166 people were killed by Pakistani gunmen. “It is in our vital interest to make peace with Pakistan but it takes two hands to clap,” Singh told lawmakers in parliament.
“If the leadership of Pakistan has courage, determination and statesmanship to act against terror, I assure them we will meet them more than halfway.
“We expect the government of Pakistan to take strong, effective and sustained action to prevent terrorism directed against India and use every means ... to bring to justice the perpetrators of terror attacks, including the Mumbai attacks,” he said.
A peace process between the two nuclear-armed neighbours was put on hold following the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital.
New Delhi blames a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), for planning and launching the November assaults in which 10 gunmen targeted multiple locations in Mumbai during a three-day killing spree.
Indian prosecutors say they have evidence that “undoubtedly and conclusively” links the Mumbai attacks to Pakistan, including mobile and satellite phone communication between the gunmen and their LeT “handlers.” India has put on trial a Pakistani national, alleged to be the sole surviving gunman, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, including “waging war against India,” which carries the death penalty.
Last week, New Delhi slammed the release of an Islamic cleric and founder of the LeT from house arrest by a Lahore court and questioned Pakistan’s sincerity in bringing the alleged plotters of the Mumbai attacks to book.