NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will defend efforts to improve ties with Pakistan in a parliament debate on Wednesday (today) after criticism by opposition groups that he had conceded ground to the neighbour. Singh signed a joint statement with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani during a meeting in Egypt this month agreeing to delink the issue of terrorism from the broader peace process. Opposition leaders saw the statement as a departure from New Delhis stand that a resumption of dialogue could only take place if Pakistan acted against the militants it believed were behind last years Mumbai attacks. Singh appeared at a new conference shortly afterwards, ruling out resumption of talks with Pakistan until the Mumbai attackers were brought to justice. But critics said the damage had been done. The prime minister must answer why he agreed to a joint statement that disrupts a national consensus that dialogue cannot resume against Pakistan unless strong measures against militants are taken, Sushma Swaraj, a senior leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, told reporters. Singh also drew flak for agreeing to include in the joint statement a reference to Balochistan, where Pakistan accuses India of fomenting an insurgency. New Delhi denies the charge. Ahead of the debate in parliament, Singhs Congress party closed ranks behind him on the approach to Pakistan. There is no issue at all. The party is firmly behind the prime minister, Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters. But analysts said many members of Congress party saw his policy on Pakistan as risky in a country where distrust of its nuclear-armed neighbour runs deep and any concession is viewed with suspicion. Privately there is enormous pressure from within the party on Manmohan Singh for signing that joint statement, but they will stick together as resuming peace talks with Pakistan is very much on the cards, said Amulya Ganguli, a political analyst. Singh is expected to speak at the end of a parliamentary discussion on recent foreign policy issues. The debate could indicate how far the government could go to normalise relations with Pakistan and restart the peace process, analysts say. I think he would say that he has taken the step because he wants to normalise relations with Pakistan and it was up to Pakistan now to reciprocate, Kuldip Nayar, a New Delhi-based political commentator, said. But Pakistan wants India to return to peace talks without conditions such as action against Mumbai attack planners and militant groups India blames for carrying out bombings in Indian cities..