Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today voiced the hope that saner counsel would prevail on the Indian and Pakistani governments, and the two get back to the vital task of developing their respective countries, news agency PTI reported. His statement came a day after India launched a cross-border air strike on terror camps in Pakistan on Tuesday, sparking near-instant retaliation from the neighbouring country.
Addressing a function at the Teen Murti Bhavan, where he was presented with the PV Narasimha Rao National Leadership and Lifetime Achievement Award by former president Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Singh said that economic development was the "basic requirement" of India and Pakistan. "I thank you for this honour. This is a great day for me, on a day when our country is grappling with another crisis of the mad rush of mutual self-destruction that plagues the two countries of India and Pakistan," PTI quoted him as saying while accepting the award from NGO "India Next".
"Our biggest challenges are growing poverty and disease, which still afflicts millions and millions of citizens of the two countries," he said, expressing the hope that the narrative would change soon.
According to the news agency, Mr Mukherjee praised Mr Singh's role as the finance minister under Narasimha Rao and said both would be remembered for the liberalisation of the Indian economy in the early 1990s. "As Prime Minister, Rao and his Finance Minister - Manmohan Singh - formed a team that laid the foundations of our liberalised economy," he said, adding that economic liberalisation helped take the nation to new heights.
Mr Singh described the former president as a "good friend", and hoped that his would be "a voice of sanity that will prevail", PTI said. He asserted that though governments have come and gone, the broad contours of the economy would remain the same.
(With inputs from PTI)