PM rejects referendum in Jammu and Kashmir
JALANDHAR: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today rejected referendum in Jammu and Kashmir saying, "we do not accept the Muslim majority state argument."
"India has more Muslims than Pakistan’s population," the Premier said adding "India belongs to all and we will not allow another partition of the country."
Mr Vajpayee revealed that he had said this to deposed Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif during his visit to Lahore last year.
The Prime Minister said, "India did not accept partition on communal grounds. Muslims are spread all over India though they may be more in Jammu and Kashmir."
Addressing a select gathering after receiving a draft of Rs ten crore from the Hind Samachar Group of Newspapers, in the aftermath of India’s nuclear testing and the Kargil conflict, for the "Shakti Fund", Mr Vajpayee said, referendum in Jammu and Kashmir was subject to withdrawal of forces by Pakistan from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). He said that since Pakistan did not fulfil that condition there was no question of any referendum in J and K.
He said that people of Jammu and Kashmir had joined the Indian Union of their down free will during partition and they had reiterated this free will in the 1977 election held during the Janata Party regime. This election was accepted as free and fair even by Pakistan.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan was again trying to raise international concerns over the Kashmir issue but added "India will not take any decision under international pressure."
Referring to the nuclear threat from Pakistan, Mr Vajpayee asked if Pakistan’s establishment understood the ramifications of such a threat. He said if Pakistan thought that it could destroy India by a nuclear bomb it was grossly mistaken.
He said that though India stood committed to ‘no first use of nuclear weapons’ it could retaliate and retaliate massively.
If Pakistan was sincere for a lasting peace with India, let its establishment also commit itself to no first use of nuclear weapons. The Prime Minister said that India was aware of Pakistan’s intention. "We are fully prepared now," he said and urged people to unite and derive inspiration from Kargil, " After Kargil it is not time to fill our eyes with tears but to shout victory".
Mr Vajpayee said that Pakistan was fighting a war against India on Kashmir for the last 50 years but said India would continue to fight "till we live till we win".
He said that Pakistan had been trying to snatch Kashmir since 1947 through deception and betrayal. "How can India leave Kashmir when its people had joined India on their own free will," he asked "do we have to educate the world about it".
The Prime Minister said that if Pakistan wanted to talk only about Kashmir "we are ready. We will talk of one third of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan because it belongs to India. Whole of Jammu and Kashmir is of India".
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan, instead of accepting the hand of friendship extended by India in Lahore, launched an assault on Kargil. But this betrayal exposed it to the world which now believed that it was India which wanted peace and not Pakistan.
He said that if Pakistan desired peace with India it would have to first restore confidence in the peace process shattered by Kargil. Resumption of dialogue with Pakistan was possible only if it first took measures to restore "pre-Lahore confidence".
Mr Vajpayee said that foreigners accepted India’s stand but they had to take into account other factors.
He warned that Pakistan, in its effort to again internationalise the Kashmir issue, could step up terrorism and, therefore, the world must understand that "terrorism is an issue (between India and Pakistan) and not Kashmir."
The Prime Minister said, "though the Kargil war is over the battle will continue till Pakistan halts its efforts to snatch Jammu and Kashmir."
He said, "Pakistan is paying a price I went to Lahore though no body expected it. Lahore benefitted us as the world came to know of Pakistani designs. The world came to know it is Pakistan which does not want peace."
Mr Vajpayee said that Pakistan, while launching the Kargil offensive, did not factor in India’s competence and will to respond and hence its calculations went awry. Pakistan, he added, did not believe that India would respond immediately and effectively. He said some powers tried to persuade India to a ceasefire but India stood firm that until aggression was vacated there was no question of any ceasefire.
He said that had India wanted it could have gone into Pakistan by crossing the Line of Control but, "we did not and I will not disclose why."
The function was also addressed by Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh besides Union Ministers Chaman Lal Gupta and Arun Shourie. Punjab Governor Lt General J F R Jacob and BJP general secretary Narendra Modi were present on the occasion.
It was Dr Farooq Abdullah who set the tone for a hardline stance on Jammu and Kashmir and urged the Prime Minister to settle the problem once and for all to end the continuing agony. He said that "people of Jammu and Kashmir had been with India, are with India and will remain with India."
Dr Abdullah’s position was supported by Union Minister of State for Planning Arun Shourie who called for "both eyes for an eye and full jaw for a tooth" approach towards Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Chaman Lal Gupta also supported the views of Dr Abdullah and Mr Shourie. (UNI)