India consistent in engaging Pak: Krishna

India consistent in engaging Pak: Krishna

26 July 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna, today said that it is the consistent policy of India to engage Pakistan and since his Pakistani counterpart's visit to India last year steps taken by both the countries were complementary. While speaking after the inauguration of Srinagar Passport Sewa Kendra at Boulevard in Srinagar and electronically inaugurating Jammu Passport Sewa Kendra (PSK) and laying foundation of Passport Bhawan, Srinagar at a function here at SKICC, Krishna said that he is looking forward for his visit to Pakistan. Recalling Pakistani Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani's Khar's, visit to India last year, Krishna said that she was candid and quite frank. He said that Rubbani conveyed her desire of change of mind set of Pakistan towards its relation with India. 'Since then every step either Pakistan or India took has been to the tune of kind of sentiments Pakistani Foreign Minister expressed', said Krishna. He said that both the countries have to be more realistic, understanding and appreciate each others intent. He said that few years back Pakistani contingent at Common Wealth Games in New Delhi was given warm reception by people of India. He said that Pakistan has to understand this basic fact of warmth at people's level. Krishna also mentioned the cordial meeting between the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Pak President, Asif Ali Zardari at New Delhi when Zardari visited Ajmeer. He said that invitation of Zardari to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was touching. He said that some day Prime Minister will visit Pakistan as he has never been to his birth place. Krishna complimented the efforts of State Government as Jammu and Kashmir has passed through tumultuous times. He also talked about the improving trade relations and people to people contact between the two countries. He said that whenever he had an occasion to engage with his Pakistani counterpart, 'we have always focused on Pakistan taking steps to bring the culprits and conspirators of heinous attack on Mumbai to justice. We will certainly continue to pursue it with Pakistan'. Krishna underlined Government's commitment of providing efficient delivery of passport services to Indian citizens in keeping with the PSP's vision 'to deliver all Passport-related services to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner and in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained and motivated workforce'. He said that as compared to 30000 passports in 1950s the Passport Offices in the country have issued 73 lakh passports last year. He said that CID clearance for passports is inevitable. 'We are working to create digital linking of passport offices with the police stations throughout the country to further ease the process of delivery', he said and added that the launch of PSKs in Jammu and Srinagar will fast track the issuance of passports to people. While responding to Chief Minister's concern over delay in Passport in Jammu and Kashmir, Krishna said that due to security concerns we can't take too many liberties in issuing passports. Krishna complimented the Chief Minister and his Government for laying solid foundation for economic development of the State. He appreciated the dynamism of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah to lead the State towards peace and development. He conveyed greetings and good wishes on his and on behalf of Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi to the people of Jammu and Kashmir on holy month of Ramdan. Earlier while speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah reaffirmed the necessity of continuous engagement by the two countries in dialogue process to amicably address all issues. He said that Indo-Pak relations have always direct bearing on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. 'And no state is as affected with the adverse relations between the two countries as Jammu and Kashmir', he added. 'We know the Kashmir-centric issues are so complex and long drawn that these cannot be resolved in a few meetings but the sustained talks to find out solution in a peaceful atmosphere is the only way forward', said Omar adding that the issues between the two countries cannot disappear overnight but efforts to engage in continuous dialogue should not stop. The Chief Minister urged Krishna to take up smaller issues like transferring Cross LoC trade from barter status to normal one by allowing financial transactions through banks and communication facilities to traders and simplifying VISA regime for Cross LoC travel to enhance the ambit of this people to people centric CBM, with his counterpart in Pakistan during his upcoming visit to that country. Omar Abdullah also highlighted the importance of restoring direct Haj flights from Srinagar to Saudi Arabia for Haj pilgrims terming it a huge gift for people of Jammu and Kashmir. 'This issue is also connected with Home and Civil Aviation Ministries and I would call for active support and help from Krishna and Dr. Farooq Abdullah in this regard at the Central level', he said. The Chief Minister said that the number of passport seekers is increasing year after year. He said his Government has taken various measures to fast track the security clearance for issuance of passports by the CID. 'We have cleared 51000 passport cases in 2010, 60000 in 2011-12 and 50000 this year so far. We have also cleared 6000 cases this year which were placed in black list. Passport clearance was also given to 2700 Haj pilgrims', said Chief Minister. He said that security clearance is a matter of concern and Government is considering possibility of bringing passport clearance by CID within the purview of Public Service Guarantee Act to make delivery of this service time bound. Welcoming the launch of PSKs in Jammu and Srinagar and foundation laying of new Passport Office at Rajbagh, Srinagar, the Chief Minister said that it would facilitate hassle-free issuance of passports to passport seekers adding that the launch of PSKs across the country will prove biggest PR initiative at home by Union Ministry for External Affairs which is otherwise more or less engaged in external matters. While speaking on the occasion Dr. Farooq Abdullah stressed for good Indo-Pak relations and sustained dialogue so that friendship is taken to logical conclusion. He said that Pakistan should realize that much blood has been shed. 'Indo-Pak friendship will result in better development and continued animosity will hamper it', he added. Dr Farooq said that India and Pakistan are neighbours and stability and peace in the two countries concern each other. He said there is urgent need that the friendship between the two countries gets further strengthened and issues are sorted out amicably and peacefully across the table. He said that both the countries have to take bold steps to end animosity. 'Otherwise the fires will consume every one', he warned. Dr. Abdullah said that the New President of India, Pranab Mukherjee in his first speech has underlined terrorism equal to fourth world war and it needs to be tackled at earliest.