Attempt to sabotage polls: PM
11 September 2002
NEW YORK: 11. The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, today said the assassination of the Jammu & Kashmir Law Minister, Mushtaq Lone, was an attempt to sabotage the election process in the State. The Foreign Office spokeswoman said this afternoon that Mr. Vajpayee told the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Rasmussen, at a bilateral meeting that ''every effort was being made to intimidate'' voters in Jammu & Kashmir, but India was doing its best to hold free and fair elections in the State. The Danish leader, whose country holds the European Union presidency, condemned the incidents of violence in Kashmir. He said the assassination of Mr. Lone was an ''act of terrorism''. Mr. Vajpayee said the ''acid test'' whether cross-border terrorism had ended or not would be evident during the Kashmir elections. The two leaders also discussed the coming Indo-European Union summit in Copenhagen in October. The spokeswoman said that to the ''best of her knowledge'' the issue of Iraq did not come up for discussion between the two leaders. Mr. Vajpayee, who also held talks with the Afghanistan President, Hamid Karzai, referred to the close ties between India and Afghanistan. The focus of the talks, which lasted for 45 minutes, was entirely on Indo-Afghan bilateral ties. The spokeswoman said India had already disbursed one-third of the $100 million loan that New Delhi had announced for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai said he looked forward to visiting India soon. He wanted to come this month itself, but his crowded schedule would not permit it. Mr. Karzai, however, made it known that he would visit New Delhi ''as soon as possible''. Senior Afghan Ministers, including the Foreign Minister, Abdullah Abdullah, were present during the meeting between the two leaders. The External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Brajesh Mishra, and the Foreign Secretary, Kanwal Sibal, were present.