Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday the peace process with Pakistan should ultimately lead to a “Treaty of Peace, Security and Friendship” between the long-standing rivals.
“I make this offer to the people of Pakistan on this historic occasion,” he said in the northern Indian city of Amritsar before launching a new bus service between the two countries. “I am sure the leadership of Pakistan will reciprocate.”
Singh, a Sikh, said the bus service connecting Sikhism’s holiest sites -- Amritsar and Nankana Sahib in Pakistan --would be another “historic” step in the road to peace between the nuclear-armed rivals.
He said India was committed to the peace process which he said could bring enormous economic benefits. And there was a growing recognition in both countries that “terrorism is an enemy of civilized societies.”
Singh: 'More needs to be done'
“General Musharraf has taken concrete steps to curb terrorism and I compliment him for that. But more needs to be done in the interest of both India and Pakistan,” Singh said.
India accuses Pakistan of supporting Islamic militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, the cause of two of the three wars between the neighbors.
Relations have improved since a peace process was launched in January 2004 but there has been little progress in solving their core dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Singh said it was a mistake for Pakistan to link normalization of other relations to finding a solution to the Kashmir dispute.
“But we are not afraid of discussing Jammu and Kashmir or of finding, pragmatic, practical solutions to resolve this issue as well,” he said.
Singh said both sides should begin a dialogue with people in the parts of Kashmir they control.
“I have often said that borders cannot be redrawn but we can work towards making them irrelevant - towards making them just lines on a map,” he said.
He also suggested the two parts of Kashmir could work out “cooperative, consultative mechanisms so as to maximize the gains of cooperation in solving problems of social and economic development of the region.”