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Aug 15, 2013 at 08:51am IST

Ties with Pakistan can't improve if terror acts continue: PM

In a strong message to Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said anti-India activities emanating from there will have to stop for relations to improve and asserted that all steps will be taken to prevent "dastardly" acts like the recent killing of jawans on the LoC.

Addressing the nation on the 67th Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort, the Prime Minister said terrorist and naxal violence in the country have reduced but the area of national security calls for constant vigil. India, he said, has strived for friendship with its neighbouring countries.

"However, for relations with Pakistan to improve it is essential they prevent the use of their territory and territory under their control for any anti-India activity," he said.

Ties with Pakistan can't improve if terror acts continue: PM

Ties with Pakistan can't improve if terror acts continue: PM

Referring to the August 6 killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistan Army in a cross-LoC attack in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir, he termed it as a "dastardly" act and said "we will take all possible steps to prevent such incidents in the future." In his 30-minute speech, Singh also appeared to target the BJP and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying there was no place for "narrow and sectarian ideologies" in modern, progressive and secular India. He warned such ideologies will "divide" society and "weaken our democracy".

"We should prevent them from growing," he said. Singh, in his 10th consecutive Independence Day address and his last before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, stressed that there was a need to strengthen secular traditions to promote tolerance. "I would appeal to all political parties, all sections of our society and public at large to work in this direction," he said.

The function, held at the heavily guarded 17th century fort built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, was attended by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Union ministers, including Defence Minister A K Antony, Leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively, and foreign dignitaries.

The Prime Minister said there was a need to build an environment of political stability, social cohesion and security for an India that is prosperous and where all its citizens will be equal partners in this, irrespective of their religion, caste, region or language. Singh expressed anguish over the loss of Navy's frontline submarine INS Sindhurakshak in an accident in Mumbai in which 18 soldiers are feared to have lost their lives.

"We are deeply pained that we lost the submarine, INS Sindurakshak in an accident yesterday. Eighteen brave sailors are feared to have lost their lives," he said. On the issue of internal security, the Prime Minister said despite some worrisome communal incidents in 2012 and this year, the last nine years have been good for communal harmony.

Although he did not elaborate, his mention about this year's communal violence seemed to be reference to last week's riots in Kishtwar in J-K. "There has been a reduction in terrorist and Naxal violence also. However, the area of national security calls for constant vigil. We have not been successful in preventing Naxal attacks that happen from time to time," he said.

He said the Naxal violence in Chhattisgarh on 25 May was a "frontal attack on our democracy."