Indian, Pakistani prime ministers meet in shadow of fresh violence
By Shaun Tandon, AFPNEW YORK CITY--Pakistan's leader Sunday held his first talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has demanded the neighbor must crack down on Islamic extremists for any improvement in ties.
September 30, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has advocated an end to historic tensions with India since he swept to power in May elections, met Singh at a New York hotel on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
In front of flags of the two nations, Singh and Sharif shook hands and made small talk before entering closed-door talks with aides.
Sharif, in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Friday called for a “new beginning” with India and denounced the developing nations' years of intense military development as a waste of resources.
But Singh, while welcoming overtures from Sharif, said that the proof of good intentions will be whether Pakistan curbs Islamic extremists who have attacked India.
On Thursday, militants raided an army base on the Indian side of divided Kashmir, killing 10 people in an attack seen as an attempt to derail peace efforts.
Singh said Saturday that Pakistan, where virulently anti-Indian groups operate virtually in the open, must no longer be “the epicenter of terrorism” in South Asia.
“For progress to be made, it is imperative that the territory of Pakistan and the areas under its control are not utilized for aiding or abetting terrorism,” Singh said from the U.N. podium.
“It is equally important that the terrorist machinery that draws its sustenance from Pakistan be shut down,” he said.
Singh resisted domestic pressure for military retaliation after Pakistan-linked militants stormed an iconic hotel in India's largest city Mumbai in 2008, killing 166 people.
The Indian leader instead pressed Pakistan to prosecute the hardline group Lashkar-e-Taiba and has said he has been disappointed by Islamabad's response.
The 81-year-old Singh, who was born in Pakistan before the subcontinent's partition in 1947, has led India since 2004 and is unlikely to stand for another term in elections next year.
The Hindu nationalist main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has tapped as its electoral candidate Narendra Modi, who in the past has been staunchly critical of Pakistan.