PM congrats J&K people for voting in large number
24 September 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Male (Maldives): Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today praised the people of Jammu and Kashmir for coming out in sizeable numbers to exercise their franchise in the Assembly elections ignoring the risk to their lives. Congratulating the people of the State, he said, ''it is praiseworthy'' that they had come out in sizeable numbers to cast their votes ''at great risk to their lives.'' Prime Minister is here on a four-day visit to Maldives. Mr Vajpayee lashed out at Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for calling the elections in Jammu and Kashmir a ''sham'' and said nobody was prepared to accept such a propaganda. ''There have been no independent elections held in Pakistan so far and so they cannot believe that independent elections can be held anywhere else,'' Vajpayee told Doordarshan when asked about Musharraf’s comment on elections in Jammu and Kashmir. ''Nobody can digest the Pakistani propaganda now,'' he said adding that there was no need for India to ''show off or dramatise'' the democratic process. Musharraf yesterday accused India of making false claims about voters turnout in the elections in Jammu and Kashmir and described the process a ''sham''. The Prime Minister also said that both India and Maldives are jointly fighting terrorism and expressed New Delhi’s readiness to train Maldivian personnel in combatting the scourge if they so desired. On SAARC, he said, ''we want to strengthen relations among member countries, particularly in the area of trade. There is great scope for co-operation in this area.'' Describing India’s relations with Maldives as ''historical, close and special,'' he said, ''we are trying to build on that.'' Asked how he felt the environment was in Kurumba island resort here and whether the atmosphere was conducive enough for him to write poetry he said, ''yes, but there are also worries and challenges.''