Manmohan vows to resolve Kashmir issue

27 September 2008
The News International
Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

United Nations: India has welcomed the return of democracy in Pakistan and pledged to resolve all outstanding issues with it, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, through peaceful dialogue. Addressing the United Nations General Assemblys 63rd annual summit session, Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said that India also welcomed the coming to power of the democratically elected governments in Nepal and Bhutan. 'We seek to expand areas of cooperation with all these countries to deal with the challenges of sustainable development and poverty eradication,' he said, stressing the need for meaningful reforms in the United Nations. 'However, we must frankly acknowledge that there has been little progress on the core elements of the reform agenda,' the Indian premier said. Interestingly, India is keen to pave the way for its berth at the Security Council through the reforms programme. 'The composition of the Security Council needs some changes to reflect contemporary realities of the twenty-first century,' he said. Dr Singh pointed out that the world food crisis was the cumulative consequence of the neglect of agriculture in the developing world, exacerbated by distortions like agricultural subsidies in the developed world. Diversion of cultivable land for producing bio-fuel is compounding the problem. 'The world needs a second green revolution to address the problem of food security. We need new technologies, new institutional responses and above all a global compact to ensure food and livelihood security. This will require transfer of technology and innovation from developed to developing countries. India is very keen to expand cooperation with Africa in the countrys quest for food and livelihood security for its people,' he said. The Indian prime minister said that trade liberalisation in agriculture can be of help, provided it adequately takes into account the livelihood concerns of poor and vulnerable farmers in the developing and least developed countries. Dr Singh said that it is feared that many of the conflicts of the 21st century will be over water. We must reflect on how to use this scarce resource efficiently. We need to invest in new technologies and new production regimes for rain-fed and dry land agriculture and explore cost effective desalination technologies. He said that poverty, ignorance and diseases still afflict millions of people. The commitment to achieve the ambitious targets set as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was an acknowledgement by the international community that global prosperity and welfare are indivisible and affluence cannot coexist with pervasive poverty. He regretted that unfortunately, solemn commitments made for transfer of financial resources from the developed to the developing world have remained largely unfulfilled. The commitment of the developed countries to move to the long-set target of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income as ODA needs to be honoured as a matter of priority. He said that the opening of international civil nuclear cooperation with India will have a positive impact on global energy security and on efforts to combat climate change. Dr Singh reiterated that India's proposal for a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and providing for their complete elimination within a specified time frame. 'The growing assertion of separate identities and ethnic, cultural and religious intolerance threatens our developmental efforts and our peace and stability. It is vital that we strengthen international cooperation to combat terrorism and to bring the perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of terrorism to justice. We should conclude expeditiously the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism,' Indian prime minister said. 'In this context, the situation in Afghanistan is a matter of deep concern. The international community must pool all its resources to ensure the success of Afghanistan's reconstruction efforts and its emergence as a moderate, pluralistic and democratic society,' he maintained.