After winning support on the issue from President Barack Obama at their Friday summit on "eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, and disrupting terrorist networks" Manmohan Singh Saturday made the same call before the UN general assembly using strong language, he reasserted what he had told Obama about Pakistan being the "epicentre of terrorism" and how little progress could be expected in peace talks without a shut down of Pakistan's "terrorist machinery".
Noting that Sharif speaking at the same forum had spoken of "making a new beginning", Manmohan Singh said he reciprocated the Pakistani leader's sentiments, and looked forward to meeting him Sunday.
"However, for progress to be made, it is imperative that the territory of Pakistan and the areas under its control are not utilised for aiding and abetting terrorism directed against India," Manmohan Singh said.
"It is equally important that the terrorist machinery that draws its sustenance from Pakistan be shut down."
The Indian leader, who had told Obama Friday that the expectations from his upcoming meeting with Sharif "have to be toned down given the terror arm which is still active in our subcontinent", in fact went a step further before the world body.
"State-sponsored cross-border terrorism is of particular concern to India, (also) on account of the fact that the epicentre of terrorism in our region is located in our neighbourhood in Pakistan," Manmohan Singh said.
Calling "for concerted, cohesive and continuing global action against terrorism," he asserted that "there can be no tolerance for states sheltering, arming, training or financing terrorists."
"Nor can they absolve themselves of the responsibility to prevent their territories from being used to launch acts of terrorism," Manmohan Singh said in a barely veiled stern warning to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Sharif who will drive down Sunday morning to the Indian leader's hotel for their much awaited first meeting made some conciliatory remarks to an Indian TV channel about how dialogue process between the two neighbours should not be derailed because of the "extremely unfortunate" Thursday's terror strike in Jammu.
The increased tensions along the line of control (LoC) were a matter of concern for Pakistan too, he told NDTV and he would propose a joint mechanism to monitor the situation there. Islamabad was even "open to an independent investigation, even one by the UN."
Saying that two countries need to pick up the threads that were broken in 1999 when he was overthrown in a coup by Gen Pervez Musharraf, Sharif said, he would invite Manmohan Singh to pay a "long overdue" visit to Pakistan and see his native village.
Asked whether his mood was optimistic, pessimistic or pragmatic on the eve of the meeting Sharif told the channel with a laugh: "I will only say I am meeting Manmohan Singh for the first time and I want to repair the threads broken in 1999."
Earlier, Sharif told the Pakistani American community in New York that he was "ousted from power" by the military because he had initiated a process of peace and friendship with India and asked "What mistake did I make?"
The real question is whether history would repeat itself and who would have the last laugh this time around.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)
--IANS (Posted on 29-09-2013)