PM Denies Difference between Govt, Cong on Joint Statement

Breaking his silence on the rising controversy over the Indo-Pak joint statement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that the government has all the “relevant answers” to the questions raised over it and that he will spell out them in Parliament on June 29.

In addition, Singh has dismissed the reported difference of opinion between the government and the Congress party as “media creation”.

“I have made a statement in Parliament and Parliament is again going to discuss the issue. I will clarify,” Singh told reporters in New Delhi response to a query about the controversy over the Joint Statement which had mention of Balochistan and de-linked terrorism and holding of composite dialogue with Pakistan.

However, he declined to say anything more on the issue, arguing, “pending a debate in Parliament, it is inappropriate to answer any specific questions on the issue.”

Also, he expressed confidence that “we have all the relevant answers.”

The Indo-Pak Joint Statement, issued after Singh’s meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Sharm-el Sheikh on July 16, has come in for sharp attack over mention of Balochistan and India agreeing to de-link dialogue from Pakistan’s action against terrorism.

Responding to demands from the opposition, a discussion will be held on the issue in Parliament on July 29 during which the Prime Minister will intervene.

Asked about reported difference of opinion between the government and the Congress party on the issue, Singh dismissed it as a “media creation”.

Singh was replying to queries by media persons at Rashtrapati Bhavan after presentation of Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The award was received by Bill Gates from President Pratibha Patil.

Opposition parties, particularly the BJP, along with experts have attacked the government over the joint statement, saying it marked reversal of India’s stand on terrorism.

The mention of Balochistan, where Pakistan alleges Indian involvement in the unrest, has also been sharply criticised. To a question on the launch of National Nutrition Mission, Singh said the government attaches top priority to it.

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