Prime Minister’s Speech at Amritsar
Presented below is the full text of the speech rendered in
on March 24, 2006
by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on the launch of the Amritsar–Nankana Sahib Bus Service:
Speech by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on the launch of Amritsar
– Nankana Sahib Bus Service, Amritsar
March 24, 2006
Chief Minister of Punjab
Brothers and Sisters!
I am extremely happy to
be here in Amritsar on this
very important occasion of the launch of a regular bus service between
Amritsar and Nankana
Sahib. This is indeed a memorable day for Punjab.
This is a historic day for the entire Sikh community, both in Punjab
and elsewhere. This is a historic day for the Panth.
In many ways, it is a historic day for both India
Ever since the Independence
of our country in 1947, every morning, every devout Sikh prays to let us have free access to the Gurudwaras
left behind in Pakistan.
And among the Gurudwaras, Nankana
Sahib is the holiest and most important. Our government has made sincere
efforts in this direction and this bus service between Amritsar
and Nankana Sahib is a result of this.
This is an emotional day
for every Sikh. And for me too. Memories of
the partition of 1947 and my own travel from Pakistan
come vividly to my mind. My heart swells with pride to launch this bus
service connecting two of the holiest sites for the Sikh Panth.
On this historic occasion I send my greetings to the people of Pakistan
and to President Pervez Musharraf.
Brothers and Sisters,
We need more such links
between the two countries in the months and years to come. For this,
we require friendly relations between India
I hope this bus service opens yet another chapter in improving the relations
between our two countries. When President Musharraf had come to visit
us in New Delhi last year
I had said that “The journey of peace must be based on a step-by-step
approach, but the road must be traveled.” As an ancient saying goes,
a road is made by walking.
I am happy that we are moving
forward and creating a road, one step after another, even though many
hurdles have come up along the way. The bus service from Srinagar
to Muzzafarabad was one step. The rail link
from Munnabao to Khokrapar was another
step. The steps we have taken to promote trade and to make travel and
transport easier are all small but important steps forward. Today, we
take another step. A historic step. This bus service from Amritsar
to Nankana Sahib renews an emotional bond
between the two sides of the border.
I have said repeatedly to
President Musharraf and the people of Pakistan
that we are sincerely committed to peace and development in this region.
Our government is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with
including the issue of Jammu & Kashmir. For this, I and General
Musharraf have agreed that it is necessary to keep firm control over
terrorism. There is a growing realization in both our countries that
terrorism is an enemy of civilized societies. General Musharraf has
taken bold steps to curb extremism and I compliment him for that. But
more needs to be done in the interest of both India
As I see it, the normalization
of relations between India
will open up enormous opportunities for an accelerated rate of economic
growth. And for creating new job opportunities.
Our trade potential is far in excess of what we are able to realize
on the ground. There are many things that the two Punjabs
can learn from each other’s development experience. We must encourage
people-to-people contacts between actors in civil society, between academics,
businessmen, artistes, and most importantly, the common people. It is
through such contacts that we can explore a vision for a cooperative
common future for our two nations – a future where peace prevails, where
relations are friendly, where our citizens rejoice in the well-being
of the other country.
I am aware that General
Musharraf has often stated that the normalization of relations between
our two countries cannot move forward unless what he calls the core
issue of Jammu & Kashmir is dealt with. In my view, it is a mistake
to link normalization of other relations with finding a solution to
Jammu & Kashmir. But we are not afraid of discussing Jammu &
Kashmir or of finding, pragmatic, practical solutions to resolve this
issue as well.
A step-by-step approach
has to be adopted given the inherent difficulties involved in finding
practical solutions. I suggest that both sides should begin a dialogue
with the people in their areas of control to improve the quality of
governance so as to give the people on both sides a greater chance of
leading a life of dignity and self respect.
I have often said that borders
cannot be redrawn but we can work towards making them irrelevant – towards
making them just lines on a map. People on both sides of the LOC should
be able to move more freely and trade with one another.
I also envisage a situation
where the two parts of Jammu & Kashmir can, with the active encouragement
of the governments of India
work out cooperative, consultative mechanisms so as to maximize the
gains of cooperation in solving problems of social and economic development
of the region.
The vision that guides us
is that the destinies of our peoples are interlinked. That our two countries
must therefore devise effective cooperative strategies to give concrete
shape and meaning to this shared vision. India
sincerely believes that a strong, stable, prosperous and moderate Pakistan
is in the interest of India
and entire South Asia. We are sincerely committed
to the prosperity, unity, development and well-being of Pakistan.
We want good neighbourly relations. We want
all the people of South Asia to live a life of
dignity and self-respect. When our neighbours live in peace, we live
Brothers and Sisters,
We must move forward. We
want to move forward. We need to do much more to create the environment
in which we can move forward. It is possible for us to come to a meaningful
agreement on issues like Siachen, Sir Creek,
Baglihar. I am convinced we can move forward, if all
concerned are willing to accept the ground realities; if all concerned
take a long view of history and of our destiny. The time has come to
leave behind the animosities and the misgivings of the past and to think
the unthinkable of moving together in pursuit of our common objective
of getting rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease that still
afflict millions of our citizens. India
must work together to open up new opportunities of economic cooperation,
not only with South Asia, but also with West
Asia and Central Asia. Cities like
Lahore and Amritsar
should once again become throbbing international commercial centers
serving the entire region.
Instead of looking at each
other as adversaries, we must have the courage to see each other as
supporting the other for the realization of a better tomorrow for all
the people of India
I have a vision that the peace making process must ultimately culminate
in our two countries entering into a Treaty of Peace, Security and Friendship
to give meaning and substance to our quest for shared goals. I make
this offer to the people of Pakistan
on this historic occasion. I am sure the leadership of Pakistan
Brothers and Sisters,
Today is a day of hope for
Punjab. Punjab has seen
many years of great pain and sorrow. Punjab has
seen many years of waste and violence. But the past is behind us. This
of ours is once again bounteous and filled with joy. Our government
in Delhi and in Punjab have been working
tirelessly for the development of the state.
I am delighted to inform
you that during the recent past after my last visit our Government has
taken several steps to restore the glory of Amritsar.
We have sanctioned Rs. 72 crore
to complete the Galiara Project around Sri
Harmandir Sahib. We have established a Centre of Research
on Sri Guru Granth Sahib Studies in the Guru
University. We have allocated
Rs. 48 crore for
the completion of the Khalsa Heritage Project
at Anandpur Sahib. I believe the first phase of it will be inaugurated
I am happy to announce that
we are taking further steps for the development of Amritsar.
This is a holy city. A historic city with a great
past. An international city whose people reside
in all corners of the world. Both Amritsar
are covered under the new Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
Through this, we can fund the Sri Guru Ram Das Urban Development Project
in Amritsar costing nearly
Rs. 240 crore and
an elevated road project costing Rs. 210 crore. The state government should pursue these on priority.
Road will be widened and made into a top
class road so that it can become an international highway for trade,
travel and tourism. We are taking steps for the upgradation
of facilities at Attari Railway Station, being
a major International Railway Station of the country. I am also happy
that the state government has finalized the development of a Special
Economic Zone in Amritsar.
This city and its neighborhood had a great industrial past. We need
to revive it and the SEZ is one such step.
I am also concerned about
the problems being faced by industry which had come up in Goindwal
Industrial Complex. I am confident that the Punjab Government will look
into all the issues and come up with a package for its revival. I assure
all necessary support from the Government of India in this regard.
I am also proud to announce
that we have decided to hand over the historic Gobindgarh
fort to the Punjab Government. A historic fort that has been so dear
to the Punjabis is now once again their own.
Brothers and Sisters,
Our Government has taken
many steps for the development of Punjab. We
have provided in the Union Budget a sum of Rs.
100 crore to the Punjab
This university must utilize these funds to generate a Second Green
Revolution in Punjab. The hard working farmers
of this lovely state feed the nation and made us secure as far as food
is concerned. They created the first green revolution. We now need to
move forward and transform the agriculture to the next level. As I travel
across the country, I see states like Maharashtra,
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu increasingly
going for commercial agriculture centered around
horticulture. Punjab farmers need to do the same
if they are to keep ahead of the rest of the country. We will work with
the state government to realize this goal by establishing the necessary
marketing and storage infrastructure and transport facilities. The high
speed rail freight corridor connecting our Western and Eastern ports
has been extended to Punjab to enable easy transport
of goods. We are also working towards creating a second international
airport in Punjab near Ludhiana and I hope this materializes
in the coming months.
Brothers and sisters,
has had a glorious history of industrial growth. Each town and city
has been renowned for specific industrial products – bicycles, hosiery,
machine tools, sports goods, etc. Over the last two decades, however,
Punjab has lost its leadership role in many areas.
We need a new wave of industrialization in the state. We need large
industries which will generate demand for ancillary products. We need
to provide technology and marketing support to small industries. We
need to create a skilled pool of people who can drive this growth. We
need to have better roads, transport facilities and power supply.
Steps are being taken towards
this end. We have allocated 1500 MWs of power
to Punjab from a Super Thermal Power Station
to be set up in Chhattisgarh and 1200 MWs of power from other Power Stations in the country. Power
supply in and around Amritsar
will improve greatly through the creation of a major new sub-station
at Amritsar at a cost of
Rs 150 crore. We
are establishing an Indian Institute of Science Education and Research
in Punjab. I have directed the National Highways
Authority of India to complete at an early date the 4-laning of widening
of the following roads:
also take up early the 6-laning of Ambala-Jalandhar Road andLudhiana-Chandigarh Road.
Our Government has also
decided to develop on-port and off-port facilities at Wagah
International Border. This includes reducing waiting time for immigration
and custom formalities at Wagah. We will modernize
customs infrastructure at Wagah and speed
up security clearance. We propose to expand immigration, customs and
security halls and increase number of counters, and provide better amenities.
We will make it easier for the arrival and departure of jathas
and delegations. An animal quarantine station will be set up for exporters
of live stock. We will improve facilities for the Amritsar-Lahore buses.
We are also improving the infrastructure for the Beating Retreat ceremony
at Wagah border post.
Brothers and sisters,
is the granary of India.
Every farmer in Punjab is a proud soldier in
our war against poverty and hunger. Your hard work has made India
proud and prosperous. Your courage and enterprise makes each one of
us proud. As a son of Punjab I salute every son
and daughter of this great land. May your path be blessed.
March 24, 2006
Source: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of