NEW DELHI — The Indian prime minister has called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used for anti-India activities. The warning came during an annual Independence Day address to the nation and follows a spike in tensions between the South Asian neighbors.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Thursday that India wants friendly ties with neighboring countries.
Speaking from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on the anniversary of India’s independence from Britain, he picked out Pakistan for special mention.
He said for relations with Pakistan to improve, it is essential that Pakistanis prevent the use of their territory and territory under their control for any anti-India activity.
The Indian leader’s comments come amid growing tensions over the disputed Kashmir region. In recent days the armies of both countries have accused each other of a spate of ceasefire violations. The dispute flared up earlier this month after India alleged that five of its soldiers had been killed in a cross-border attack by Pakistani troops. Islamabad denies that its forces were involved in any such incident.
That attack has provoked strong reactions in New Delhi and put pressure on the Indian government to adopt a tough line with Islamabad. On Wednesday, the Indian Parliament adopted a resolution condemning that attack and saying India’s restraint should not be mistaken for weakness. And in a pre-Independence Day speech, President Pranab Mukherjee said “patience has limits” and India will take steps to protect its territory.
The attack has marred hopes of the early resumption of a peace dialogue despite overtures by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has called for friendlier ties with New Delhi.
Prime Minister Singh, whose Congress Party is gearing up for elections next year, also said he expects the current economic slowdown in India to be shortlived.
He said there is much discussion that India’s growth rate has slowed to five percent. He assures the country that the government is trying to remedy the situation, but points out that the entire world is experiencing slow growth.
Referring to an explosion aboard an Indian submarine early Wednesday, the Indian Prime Minister said it is feared the 18 sailors on board have lost their lives. He said the country pays homage to the “bravehearts.” It was the worst accident suffered by the Indian navy in more than 40 years.