Jaipur blasts targeted ties with Pakistan: Indian Prime Minister Singh
By Jawed Naqvi, Dawn, May 18, 2008
NEW DELHI, May 17: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has warned that the recent blasts in Jaipur were of a piece with the objectives of their perpetrators to derail improving ties with Pakistan. Dr Singh also spoke on Saturday of the need to thwart these attempts with a sound strategy.
His comments suggested that the issue could be discussed this coming week during the visit to Islamabad by Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and also possibly by Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon who is expected to fly there on Monday to review the fourth round of the India-Pakistan Composite Dialogue.
“There is no doubt that terrorist elements have many objectives — to disturb the atmosphere of communal harmony in our country, to create communal disturbances and also to prevent normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan,” Dr Singh told reporters in Bagdogra in West Bengal after wrapping up his two-day visit to Bhutan.
“We have to be mindful of these nefarious designs and we have to adopt an effective strategy to counter all these dangers,” he was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying.
Dr Singh’s observations indicated a key difference in the approach to the Jaipur blasts with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, whose leaders have blamed Pakistan and Bangladesh without explaining how the two governments, both currently nurturing goodwill for Delhi, might have benefited.
Dr Singh was responding to a question whether the Jaipur serial blasts had vitiated the atmosphere ahead of the India-Pakistan talks in Islamabad on May 20-21.
The foreign secretary-level talks on May 20 followed by foreign ministerial talks the next day will mark resumption of the composite dialogue after more than seven months.
In the backdrop of the Jaipur blasts, terrorism will top the agenda of the talks, with India expected to raise its concern over continued infiltration from Pakistan.Earlier on Saturday, the Indian prime minister addressed the Bhutan parliament where he spoke of India’s desire to see “a South Asia which is at peace with itself. We wish to contribute to ever widening circles of security, peace and prosperity in our region,” he added.
Meanwhile the Jaipur terror attacks that left more than 60 dead and hundreds injured appeared to have become a political football between the BJP-ruled Rajasthan and the Congress-ruled federal government. The Congress has accused the BJP seeking to communalise the incident in which many Hindus and a few Muslims were killed.
“The victims need our understanding and sympathy,” Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil said. “They should be helped in every respect... Steps need be taken to take action against the perpetrators of the incidents. Those who are on this job should be helped in every respect. The Union would help the State and its police to do its duty.”
Significantly, the home minister also added: “At this point of time, nothing should be done and said which would create obstacles and misunderstanding and is unhelpful in the task of investigating agencies...For this purpose, no statement which can create misunderstanding between the agencies and governments should be made by those who are involved in doing their duties.”