J&K constitutionally wedded to India
22 January 2002
New Delhi: Union Home Minister L K Advani said that India had often failed to present the point that Jammu and Kashmir was constitutionally wedded to India and that the geographical contours had been altered by Pakistani aggression. Terming the Jammu and Kashmir issue as ''a case of missed opportunities,'' Mr Advani said there was a wide gulf in perceptions of Pakistan and India regarding Kashmir. Delivering the keynote address ''My India: Vision for the future,'' on the concluding day of three-day India Today conclave, the Home Minister said the representative political party in Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference, also favoured going with India in 1947. ''Jammu and Kashmir belonged to India and the situation changed due to the act of aggression in 1947. It is our biggest failure to project that it was the act of aggression that changed a constitutional and legally acceded J &K to India,'' he said. Mr Advani admitted this lack of projection led to the world believe that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir belongs to Pakistan and ''we are only emphasizing on Kashmir Valley.'' Ruling out return of the State to pre-1953 position, he favoured ''greater devolution'' of powers to the State and visualised India and Pakistan coming together in some type of confederal framework in the ''years to come''. He quoted the instance of the Germanys coming together after the Berlin Wall fell. The Home Minister said ''India, Pakistan and Bangladesh share so much in common with each other. We can continue to remain separate and sovereign nations and yet voluntarily opt for expanding the areas of cooperation.'' ''What is needed are small but sincere steps towards resolving bilateral issues peacefully and remaining steadfastly committed to the path of closer ties between all our peoples, businesses and governments.'' Recalling Jan Sangh ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay''s dream of an Akhand Bharat, Mr Advani said Upadhyay felt that partition was a mistake and that a day would come when both India and Pakistan would realise that it was a folly. ''Partition was a tragedy. At the same time, partition is a reality. We in India have accepted the reality of Pakistan. However, I often wonder whether the ruling establishment in Pakistan has accepted the reality of a secular, democratic and united India,'' he said. Asking Pakistan to stop training, arming, financing and providing shelter to terrorists, the Home Minister said, ''Should that happen, India will not be found wanting in engaging Pakistan in a very meaningful dialogue on all bilateral issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir''. Mr Advani said the Vajpayee Government was sincere in demonstrating its commitment to seeking tension-free relations with Pakistan and the February 1999 bus journey to Lahore and the Agra summit were two steps in that direction. Pakistan has opted for conflict and hostility to resolve the bilateral issues instead of sitting down for a meaningful dialogue, he said. ''I am sure that more and more people in Pakistan are also convinced now that the same outcome is awaiting their nation if it continues with the dangerous policy of aiding and abetting cross-border terrorism, fuelled by religious extremism, as a matter of State policy,'' he said. Welcoming General Pervez Musharraf''s ''bold and forthright'' denunciation of terrorism and religious extremism in his January 12 address to the nation, so far as they affect Pakistan''s internal affairs he said, ''No leader of Pakistan has rejected theocracy as categorically as President Musharraf has''. The Home Minister said that, however, what General Musharraf has stated with regard to terrorism originating from Pakistan and aimed at Jammu and Kashmir ''seems tactical''. It does not indicate any stratetic shift of approach. ''We have, therefore, made it clear that we shall judge Pakistan''s sincerity and commitment to fight terrorism only after we have seen its corresponding action on the ground,'' Mr Advani reiterated. Mr Advani said ''Our cynicism and skepticism about Pakistan runs so deep that nice sounding words are no longer enough. India has been bled by cross-border terrorism for far too long. We have also been betrayed far too often,'' adding that on top of this experience has come the attack on Parliament by outfits sheltered and patronised by Pakistan''s ISI. It was after the Parliament attack that the government decided that India''s response to the challenge of cross-border terrorism was ''going to be different for what it has been so far,'' he said.