February 2002 News

Vajpayee rejects offer for talks on Kashmir

16 February 2002
The Daily Excelsior

GORAKHPUR: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today again rejected Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s offer of talks on Kashmir saying there cannot be any dispute on Kashmir as it is an integral part of India. Addressing an election meeting here this evening Mr Vajpayee said the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly had ratified the accession of the state with India after independence. India would not talk with Pakistan on any other issue unless Pak sponsored terrorist activities were stopped and peace restored on the borders, the PM said. Mr Vajpayee said Pakistan had staked a claim for Kashmir on the basis that it was a Muslim-dominated state but did not realise that the Muslim population in India was more than the total population of the Pakistan. He said Pakistan was already occupying one third of our territory and talks would be held only for that part and not for Kashmir. The Prime Minister said the leaders at the time of independence divided the country on religious lines. India had honoured the decision and wished to live in peace with its neighbour. However, Pakistan turned the aggressor and attacked India thrice. Lashing out at President Pervez Musharraf for levelling unfounded allegations against India, Vajpayee said his credibility was at stake and suggested that Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar could be hiding in Pakistan. ''Musharraf had said in Washington that India was carrying out nuclear test which the administration denied in his face saying we do not have any such reports. After that Musharraf has not said anything,'' he said at a press conference in Lucknow. In a further dig at him, Vajpayee said Musharraf had also named India as being involved in the abduction of US journalist Daniel Pearl but ''the whole world knows that India has nothing to do with it.'' ''Once again Musharraf’s credibility is at stake. Whatever Musharraf says is taken with a pinch of salt.'' To a question on how long the military buildup on the Indo-Pak border would last, he replied '' till such time it is needed.'' In reply to another question, he said there was a strong possibility of bin Laden and Omar hiding in Pakistan. ''I will not be surprised about such a possibility,'' he said while maintaining that Pakistan was the safest place for them, adding there should be a ''thorough search there''. Pakistan should not provide asylum to them, he added. Mr Vajpayee, who was campaigning for the BJP in the State, said the same party’s rule in the Centre and the State helped timely implementation of projects. Without naming Bihar, he said sufficient funds were released to the State but they were deposited in banks and the ruling party was enjoying the benefits through interest. He appealed to the electorate to vote for a party which could deliver the goods. The public had seen the performance of Governments of all major parties and could judge their performance. He said UP had been ruled by parties which believed in casteism and created mistrust among the people. But the BJP Government, which came to power with the help of like-minded parties, had tried to initiate development work. Mr Vajpayee said to resolve the problem of annual flooding in the state the Government would initiate discussions with the Nepalese Government, as all the major rivers originate there. He said the huge stocks of foodgrains had created ‘storage difficulties’. ''We are exporting foodgrains to earn foreign exchange,'' he added. However, India is still far behind in production of pulses and oilseeds and our agriculture scientists must think of increasing production, the PM said. Mr Vajpayee said the Centre had lifted restrictions on the sale of farm produce to other states and farmers were free to sell their produce for better prices in any part of the country. On industrial development, he said the Government had changed its policy to attract foreign investment into the country.


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