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India asks Pakistan to 'shed its insecurity'

Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said India seeks a stable, peaceful and economically progressing Pakistan.

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Ahead of its engagement in the process of bridging "trust deficit" with Pakistan, India has asked it to "shed its insecurity" on asymmetries in sizes and capabilities between them, including the strategic leverage gained after Indo-US nuclear deal, as they were not targeted against it.

Emphasising that as the two countries commence the exercise of overcoming the difficulties in the relationship, it was important to reiterate a few points, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said India seeks a stable, peaceful and economically progressing Pakistan.

"Secondly, we sincerely desire peace with Pakistan. Thirdly, we have to learn to live with the asymmetries in our sizes and capabilities. Such differences of scale should not deter us from working with each other. Pakistan should shed its insecurity on these counts," she said.

Despite "misguided and serious provocations", India has exhibited true restraint, Rao said.

She asked Pakistan to prevent the entry of radical ideology into the domain of religion, and, the consequent implications for peace and security between India and Pakistan, making differences over Kashmir even more difficult.

Radical, terrorist forces are also increasingly battling for larger space in a deadly struggle that seeks to overwhelm moderate, democratic forces in Pakistani civil society, the foreign secretary said.

"The writing on the wall must be seen," she said.

Terrorism as a continuation of war by other means and the use of terrorist groups selectively as strategic assets against India cannot and must not continue, she said.

"As an intrinsic part of the long-term vision of relations it desires with India, Pakistan must act effectively against those terrorist groups that seek to nullify and, to destroy the prospects of peace and cooperation between our two countries," Rao said in her address at the Afghanistan-India-Pakistan 'trialogue' organised by Delhi Policy Group yesterday.

The last 60 years have had more than their share of bitterness, recrimination, mistrust, misunderstanding and miscommunication, where these two countries are concerned, she pointed out.

"The road ahead is a long and winding one. But as fellow travellers, India and Pakistan must tackle the challenges of this rocky road with the belief that a secure and prosperous future vitally and crucially depends on our ability to do so."

The remarks come ahead of the meetings between the foreign secretaries this month and foreign ministers next month who have been directed by their respective prime ministers to work out the modalities of restoring trust and confidence in the relationship thus paving the way for a substantive dialogue on all issues of mutual concern. Noting that geographical contiguity and shared history, ethnic and linguistic affinities, and similar developmental challenges have not induced an inevitable congruity between the interests of the two, Rao said, "That is the tragedy of our relationship. There is a trust deficit. Some also refer to a vision deficit, especially since India has over the years sought to spell out a broader vision of our relationship while a similar definition has not been easy for Pakistan to enunciate."

Therefore, there was a need for articulating a common definition of what kind of relationship "we want for the future and the welfare of our millions should be the common denominator of our efforts," she said.

India was ready to address all issues of mutual concern through dialogue and peaceful negotiations for bridging the "trust deficit", she said but maintained that "terrorism as a continuation of war by other means, and the use of  terrorist groups selectively, as strategic assets against India, cannot and must not, continue."

She also tried to ally Pakistan's apprehension about India's conventional defence superiority and growing strategic capabilities after the civil nuclear deal with the US, saying "India's defence posture and capabilities are not of an offensive nature, and not targeted against any country, including Pakistan.

"We want to see a peaceful, stable, energy-secure and prosperous Pakistan that acts as a bulwark against terrorism for its own sake and for the good of the region. Asymmetries in size and development, should not prevent us from working together, building complementarities, and realising a vision of friendly, bilateral relations."

Noting that in recent times, unprecedented focus on the "water issue" between the two countries has also been witnessed by India, Rao said, "Breast-beating propaganda and baseless charges alleging stealing of water and illegal construction of dams have been spread and poisoned the atmosphere of our relations further".

The myth of water theft does not stand the test of rational scrutiny or reason and India has never sought to deny Pakistan its fair and stipulated share of the Indus waters, she said.

In future, India could consider cooperation, such as sharing best practices in water utilisation and irrigation, under a suitable bilateral intergovernmental mechanism.

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