Pak should give up ‘anti-India outlook’ Self-determination advocates in J&K won’t succeed: Vajpayee
15 August 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: In his stern warning to the advocates of the grant of self- determination right to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, on Friday declared that the Government was determined not to allow them to succeed in this. The Prime Minister said that since 'free and fair' Assembly polls in 2002 had again demonstrated that Jammu and Kashmir 'is a part of India and the people want to remain with it', those talking of self- determination want to communalise the situation in India. In his address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 57th Independence Day amid rains, Atal Behari Vajpayee said that the people who advocated the right to self-determination in Kashmir, wanted to divide India on communal lines. 'They will not be allowed to succeed in this', he made it clear. The Prime Minister announced that he had planned to visit Srinagar towards the end of this month. He told his Red Fort audience 'I had gone to Srinagar a few months back. I am going there again at the end of this month. The atmosphere there is changing'. Vajpayee recalled that his Government fulfilled its promise of holding 'free and fair' elections in Jammu and Kashmir, stating that the polls demonstrated the fact that people of Kashmir had rebuffed terrorism from across the border. Arguing that 'knotty' issues in Jammu and Kashmir could be unraveled 'only through dialogue', the Prime Minister held out an assurance 'We shall take forward the efforts that have been initiated in this direction'. In an obvious reference to the displaced members of Kashmiri Pandit community, Vajpayee said 'People who have been uprooted have to be re-settled in their homes'. He, in fact, voiced the Government’s determination to rehabilitate the displaced people from the State. In his 25-minute speech, Prime Minister highlighted the need for sincere efforts to bring about amity and understanding and friendship between India and Pakistan. And as he asked Pakistan to abandon its ‘anti-India outlook’, Vajpayee invited Islamabad to 'walk together' with India on the road to peace. He admitted that the road 'is decidedly bumpy'. 'There are even mines strewn along this path', he also admitted. At the same time he exuded confidence, saying 'Once we start walking, we will find the hurdles getting out of our way'. Vajpayee, who emphasized that India wanted to settle all outstanding issues with Pakistan peacefully, noted with satisfaction 'In recent months, there has been some progress in normalising relations with Pakistan'. The Prime Minister, however, voiced concern at the continuing terrorist activities. It was, precisely, in this context that he observed 'The test of our neighbour’s sincerity lies in whether he is prepared to stop cross-border terrorism completely'. In his 6th Independence Day address, Vajpayee said 'Our frequent initiatives to normalise relations with Pakistan are not a sign of our weakness; they are an indication of our commitment to peace'. Speaking from behind a bullet-proof glass shield, Prime Minister said 'We hope Pakistan abjures its anti-India outlook. The people of both countries wish to live in peace'. He also said that he had been telling his Pakistani friends that 'we have spent 50 years fighting'. How much more blood is yet to be spilt ? His strong recommendation 'The two of us need to fight against poverty, against unemployment and against backwardness'. The Prime Minister also highlighted the need to increase trade and economic links between India and Pakistan and said 'When we share a 2,000-km-long border, it makes no sense for us to trade via a third country'. Vajpayee’s yet another forceful recommendation 'Let people travel to and fro. Let more and more elected representatives visit each other’s country. Let us expand bilateral cultural relations. Let us open some new doors, new windows and new ventilators in the walls that divide us'. As he was discussing relevance and need of improvement in the ties with Pakistan, Vajpayee made a pointed reference to the 30-month Pakistani girl, Noor, and said that the love she received in India during her treatment in a Bangalore hospital, carried a message 'which our friends in Pakistan should understand'. Vajpayee also announced India’s decision to send its own spacecraft ‘Chandrayaan’ to Moon by 2008. Emphasizing on the need for stability for economic development that could ensure faster employment generation and address the problem of poverty, the Prime Minister said that India 'today has become fourth largest economy of the world'. India, he added, was emerging as an economic force in the world. 'Economy is poised for a big leap and we will attain the cherished goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020', he said and posed 'Today when the era of resurgence has arrived, why should there be any doubts in any one’s mind?' Vajpayee, while identifying poverty and unemployment as the major issues, said that the Government was taking steps to provide more employment opportunity through schemes like rural road and national highway development programmes. The Rs 54,000 crore national highway development programme was providing employment to 1.5 lakh persons and the number to increase to 3-6 lakhs by the next year. Likewise the boom in the construction activities, facilitated by conducive policies and low interest credit facilities would also provide significantly higher employment opportunities, he pointed out. He said that India, which was used to borrowing from abroad, had now started lending to others. He took pride in announcing that India, which was perennially troubled by paucity of foreign exchange, had today accumulated 100 billion US dollars. Maintaining that the Government was prepared to fight corruption at all levels, the Prime Minister said 'After the experience so far, I have come to the conclusion that there is imperative need for greater commitment and accountability in our system of governance, which has the responsibility of implementing policies and decision'. He regretted 'There is delay in Government offices even for getting right work done. Delays breed corruption'. The Government, he said, had decided to enact the Lok Pal Bill which has been pending for several decades. Vajpayee said 'In spite of opposition from some people, I have personally brought the Prime Minister within the ambit of its investigation, so that you can even book your Prime Minister if he commits any wrong'. He also declared that stringent measures were being taken against economic offenders. Portraying a rosy picture of the prices of essential commodities being 'under control', Vajpayee insisted 'There is no shortage of anything in the market. Poverty is declining. It is our resolve to eradicate it faster'. Vajpayee expressed happiness over completion of five years of his Government and said that all previous experiments in running coalition Governments at the Centre had failed. 'We have succeeded', he said. He said that the Centre had established cooperative relations with State Governments of different political parties. He stressed 'Political discrimination on account of ideological differences is unacceptable to us'. He termed as 'a national resolve' the proposal to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies and regretted that it had become difficult to pass the Women’s Reservation bill in its original form because of lack of consensus in Parliament. A new proposal has been brought forward that seeks to create 33 per cent double-member seats, in which one of them is reserved for women. 'This is a practical suggestion', he remarked and said that if there was any other suggestion on which a consensus was possible, it should be implemented. Vajpayee also asserted that the Government accorded top priority to national security. The first act of his regime,he said, was to make India a nuclear weapon state for self-defence in 1998. 'The world is changing. New challenges are emerging before us. We have to make India stronger both economically and socially', he said. Deriding those who wished to divide the society on the basis of religion, caste or community, Vajpayee said 'India is a multi- religious nation. It is against both its nature and culture to practice discrimination or to do injustice to anybody on the grounds of faith. We should always care for the minority and be attentive towards their welfare'. On the peace process in the northeast, Prime Minister said that the talks were yielding 'positive' results. 'The hands that took up the gun now wish to participate in the development of their region. The Government is ready to welcome them'.