By Syed Akbar
Riyadh, March 1: Prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Monday said India wishes to live in peace and friendship with its neighbours and seeks cooperative relations with Pakistan.
Addressing the Majlis-al-shura, a symbol of participative governance in the oil-rich Arab nation, Dr Singh said “I believe that all countries of South Asia should work to realise the common vision of peace and inclusive development for the region.”
Stating that India is keen to seek cooperative relations with Pakistan, Dr Singh said India’s objective is a permanent peace because it recognises that it is bound together by a shared future.
“If there is cooperation between India and Pakistan, vast opportunities will open up for trade, travel and development that will create prosperity in both countries and in South Asia as a whole.”
He however, said, to realise this vision, Pakistan must act decisively against terrorism. If Pakistan cooperates with India, there is no problem that the two countries cannot solve and they can walk the extra mile to open a new chapter in relations between the two countries.
On the situation in Afghanistan he said that the government there needed the support of the international community in restoring peace and development in the country.
Dr Singh, who had the rare honour of addressing the historic Majlis-al-shura meeting, said West Asia is a vital part of India’s extended neighbourhood.
“We have deep and intricate ties with the Gulf countries. We have a high stake in the peace and stability of the region. Neither the countries of
the region nor the world can afford fresh turmoil. We sincerely hope
that wisdom will prevail and that in the resolution of conflicts and
differences, dialogue will triumph over confrontation. There is no issue more important for peace and stability in the region than the question of Palestine,” Dr Singh said.
Dr Singh is the first Indian Prime minister to address the shura meeting. Referring to India’s economic progress, he said, “In the next 25 years we aspire to growth rates of between 9 to 10 per cent annually. This will enable us to lift millions of our people out of poverty and to transform India into one of the largest economies of the world. India looks to the future with confidence and hope.”
Tracing the long cultural ties between India and Saudi Arabia he said, “Indian Muslim scholars went to Mecca in order to learn Islamic
theology. Arab Muslim scholars came to India to learn mathematics,
science, astronomy and philosophy. Today, Islam is an integral part of India’s nationhood and ethos and of the rich tapestry of its culture. India has made significant contributions to all aspects of Islamic civilization. Our 160 million Muslims are contributing to our nation building efforts and have excelled in all walks of life.”
Stating that the Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam and the land of the revelation of the Holy Quran, he said, “ I have come to this ancient land with a message of peace, brotherhood and friendship. India regards Saudi Arabia as a pillar of stability in the Gulf region.”
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