NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had sought more time to act against anti-India militants because Islamabad’s fight with the Taliban had entered a crucial phase.
“He did mention to me the difficulties Pakistan is facing in controlling terrorism and asked us to bear with him, to give him some more time,” Singh told reporters on his way back from Russia’s Yekaterinburg, where the two leaders met on Tuesday.
Singh’s comments came a day after he urged Zardari to ensure Pakistan was not used to launch attacks on India.
Their meeting, the first since last year’s attacks on Mumbai, marked a tentative thaw in relations but stopped well short of reopening a peace process that India had put on hold after the Mumbai assault.
India blames Pakistan-based anti-India groups for attacking Indian cities and named the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group as responsible for the attack on Mumbai which killed 166 people.
Pakistan says it is investigating the Mumbai attacks, even while it struggles to push back a growing Taliban insurgency.
Security forces have made progress in more than a month of fighting against militants in Swat. The militants have responded with a string of bombs in towns and cities.
Pakistani military has been ordered to go on the offensive against Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in his stronghold in South Waziristan on the Afghan border.
“I explained to him that whereas now Pakistan has taken effective action against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, we have a strong feeling that those elements who are active in perpetrating terrorist acts in our country ... (are) not being brought to justice,” Singh said.
He said India would not close channels of communication with Pakistan and would continue to try to make peace with it.
“We have often said we can choose our friends, we have to live with our neighbors, and therefore, it is obligatory on us not to close channels of communication,” Singh said.
Singh’s comments hold out prospects of more talks between officials of the two countries and their leaderships.
An Indian official told Reuters on Tuesday Singh and Zardari would meet in July in Egypt, which is hosting the Non-Aligned Movement summit.