March 2001 News

Talks with all in J&K soon: PM

12 March 2001
The Asian Age

New Delhi: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced in the Lok Sabha on Monday that talks would soon be initiated with all groups in Jammu and Kashmir for a lasting solution to the problems there. The Prime Minister confessed that there had been a delay in follow-up action after the ceasefire initiative in Jammu and Kashmir, but said that this was not due to any laxity on the part of the government. The Prime Minister also advised Pakistan to give up its attitude of “committed hostility” towards India and cooperate to look for a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem. Mr Vajpayee, who was replying to the continued discussion on the motion of thanks on the President’s address to both Houses of Parliament, also ruled out withdrawal of cases against three Union ministers in the Ayodhya case, saying the law would be allowed to take its own course and the Centre had no intention of interfering with the CBI’s functioning in this connection. Talking about the delays in initiating a dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister said the government was not responsible for this but, he said, he did not want to get into the reasons for the delay. “There are reasons which I will disclose at an appropriate time,” he said. Without naming Pakistan, Mr Vajpayee said though the entire world had acknowledged and appreciated India’s willingness for peace in Kashmir, its neighbour was still going on encouraging militancy in the state. He hoped the neighbour would soon realise and mend its ways in view of international perspective on the Jammu and Kashmir issue. “This was reflected in UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks in Pakistan when he endorsed the Lahore peace initiative by India,” he said. Mr Annan had ruled out implementation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir or a separate human rights commission for the state, saying a lasting solution to the problem lay in implementation of the Lahore declaration. Appreciating Pakistan’s gesture of sending relief for Gujarat quake victims, Mr Vajpayee said: “God forbid, if such a tragedy ever befell Pakistan, India too would respond similarly. There is a need for both of us to try and come closer.” Ruling out any intervention by the government in the ongoing Ayodhya case where charges against three Union ministers, L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati, have been quashed on some technical grounds, Mr Vajpayee said the CBI was an autonomous institution and the government did not interfere in its functioning at all. “Unlike in the past, we have not withdrawn cases against anyone. The CBI is an independent agency and we do not issue any direction to it. Since the matter is sub judice it will not be proper for me to say anything more but we are committed to allowing the law to take its own course,” the Prime Minister said. Replying to the Opposition charge of the government not doing enough for the farmers especially in view of lifting of restrictions under WTO, he said this was not true and the government would do everything to safeguard the farmers’ interests. “We have increased duty to protect our farmers, we will further increase it if the occasion demanded but there was a limit to this also. We need to sit and discuss the situation,” he said, adding he was planning to convene a chief ministers’ meeting in this connection. The Lok Sabha later adopted the motion of thanks to the President after quashing all the amendments moved by various members.

 

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