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Manmohan pays tribute to Indians on b’day
Published on 26 Sep. 2009 10:33 PM IST
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Ever so shy when it comes to his personal life and plaudits, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who turned 77 Saturday, said he was indebted to the people of India for the faith they have reposed in him, even as he treated the accompanying delegation to a cake. “I am grateful to the people of India, who have given me this unique opportunity to serve them,” the prime minister said amid birthday wishes from journalists. “They (Indians) let me serve them for five years and reposed confidence in me for another term and that is a debt I can never repay. The only way I can redeem myself to an extent is by rededicating myself to the service of the nation,” he said. “I would pray to god to give me enough strength to keep serving the people,” said the prime minister, who was looking rather tired due to the lack of sleep because of his hectic schedule in Pittsburgh. Born on Sep 26, 1932, in Gah village in what is now known as Chakwal district in Punjab, Pakistan, the prime minister celebrated his birthday in Geneva on way to New Delhi after attending the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. Manmohan Singh’s spouse Gursharan Kaur, whom he married in 1958, and their second daughter Daman Singh are accompanying him on this tour. Daman is a social worker and writer. In Pittsburgh their US-based youngest daughter Amrit Singh spent some time with the family. Amrit Singh is a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union in New York City. His eldest daughter Upinder Singh is a professor of history at Delhi University. Pak must end use of terror as state policy Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said Pakistan must give up the use of terrorism as a “state policy” and bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to book, as it will encourage India to “walk an extra mile” to improve ties with the neighbour. Addressing a press conference here at the conclusion of the G20 Summit, the prime minister said enough evidence had been given to Pakistan regarding the involvement of its nationals in the Mumbai terror attacks Nov 26 last year. “We sincerely hope they (Islamabad) would very firmly carry out the due process of investigation and bring the culprits to book. If that is carried out, we will move an extra mile to normalise our relations,” he said. “The only obstacle is Pakistan must give up its old attitude of using terror as an instrument of state policy,” he said, adding Islamabad had also accepted that those behind the Mumbai attacks were Pakistani nationals. Manmohan Singh said there was no change in India’s stand on Pakistan since the Sharm-el-Sheikh talks with his counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, a position he has made clear in the Indian parliament. “If you read my statements in parliament, I have explained the government’s position and I think there is no change on this,” he said when asked how he looked forward to moving ahead with relations with Pakistan. India and Pakistan are neighbours and they have an obligation to move as neighbours, he said. The prime minister’s comments come ahead of a meeting in New York between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart with India expected to focus on Islamabad’s action against terror emanating from Pakistani soil. Manmohan Singh said he did get an opportunity to speak with his host and US President Barack Obama during the G20 Summit, not in the form of a separate bilateral but in the form of exchanges while seated next to each other. He said India has already brought to the notice of the US government that the aid being given to Pakistan to fight terrorism was being used to build military assets that could be used only against India. “Even earlier when sophisticated weaponry was being made available by the United States to Pakistan, we have told the only country against whom these weapons can be used is India.”

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