Contending that dialogue was the only way forward with Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said the decision to hold foreign-secretary level talks was a "calculated" one but there can be no meaningful discussion till terror from there is ended.
Denying that he had sought mediation by Saudi Arabia, he asserted in the Lok Sabha that all problems with Pakistan can be resolved bilaterally if it adopted a "reasonable" attitude in dealing with terror elements which target India.
"Our policy towards Pakistan is consistent, cautious and realistic," Singh said replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address to Parliament during which he lambasted the opposition BJP for spreading disinformation. The House later passed the Motion of Thanks by a voice vote.
Singh specifically rebutted charges levelled by senior BJP leader L K Advani that the government was talking to Pakistan under US pressure.
Underlining the need for keeping communication channels with Pakistan from breaking down, he said the scope of any "miscalculation can only worsen in an environment of no contact."
To buttress his point, he said the US and the erstwhile Soviet Union, even at the height of the Cold War had kept communication channels open.
Referring to the recent Foreign Secretary-level talks, Singh said it was not a "sudden" decision but a "calculated" one. He pointed out that he had earlier offered to resume talks on humanitarian issues
The Prime Minister said not talking with Pakistan would not solve any problem and dialogue was the only way forward. "But for any meaningful talks, terrorism must end," he said.
Referring to his meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani last year, Singh said India has left Pakistan in no doubt that it must end terrorism.
"Pakistan must take strong action against terrorism ... Pakistan must fulfil its assurances of not allowing territories under its control to be used for terrorism against India," he asserted.
Taking on Advani for saying that US pressure was behind India's decision to talk to Pakistan, Singh said any person making such allegations would be doing a disservice to the nation.
"I think we do a disservice to any government if we say such fundamental policies are based on anything but on supreme national interest," the Prime Minister said.
Making it clear that India did not want any foreign power to get involved in mediatory efforts in South Asia, he said "I would urge the opposition not to spread disinformation on sensitive matters."
"Whatever our problems, we must learn to talk to each other and to solve our problems in a peaceful manner using our own creative genius," Singh said
On the Women's Reservation Bill, Singh said it would be taken up in Parliament during the current session, amid indication that it would be brought in Rajya Sabha on March 8, the International Women's Day. Singh sought the support of members on this important legislation.
"We introduced the Women s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha in May, 2008. We have already considered the Report of the Standing Committee of Parliament on this bill. I sincerely hope that members would support the bill, as it would be the strongest affirmation of our commitment to the empowerment of women," he said.
Singh's statement showed that the government was determined to go ahead with the Women's Reservation Bill despite opposition from certain parties like RJD, SP and JD(U) and sees no problem in its passage
The Prime Minister announced ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in Thursday's stampede in Pratapgarh, UP.
Singh announced Rs 50,000 from the National Relief Fund to those seriously injured. PTI