Advani Rejects Internal Ceasefire In Kashmir
28 January 2004
The Times of India
Jammu: Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani on Tuesday outrightly rejected the possibility of internal ceasefire for the time being although he admitted that there was sea change in the general atmosphere and political climate of the state. He was addressing the media persons while winding up his day long visit to review the process of border fencing along Line of Control and International Border in Rajouri-Poonch and Hiranagar sectors of the winter capital. With regard to Hurriet's demand for 'internal ceasefire' in the state, Advani stated that the previous experience of the Government of India, which had announced unilateral (internal) ceasefire in 2000, was not 'happy' one. However, it would be too early rather premature to comment how the things take turn in future, he added. Reiterating that the Government of India is willing to talk to any body whosoever gives up violence, he however maintained that there would not be any diminution in vigil. When asked whether he is optimistic that the fencing and other Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) would be able to destroy the terrorists infrastructure and what makes him optimistic about the entire process, Advani avowed that its 'spirit' lays in the joint statement made at SAARC summit. While briefing the media about his 'review visit', he noted that there was apparent let up in violence along the borders though internally it has not subsided very satisfactorily. Infiltration too has come down to a significant level, he said while adding that weather could be a reason for this 'drop rate'. 'Yet in totality, there is a change in atmosphere of J&K. For the past one and a half year or so, the wind of change is blowing and for that I would identify four landmark events which contributed to this transformation,' Advani stated. He identified BJP led NDA government's success in discharging its democratic duty in holding free and fair polls, ensuring smooth change of government while maintaining transparency in the entire process as the first 'landmark event'. 'The prime minister's visit to the state in April, 2003 and his speech at Srinagar where he announced that he was extending the hand of friendship for the third time to our neighbour with the hope that it ( Pakistan ) would respond too appropriately,' the deputy prime minister averred. 'Thirdly, of course it was the joint statement made at Islamabad after SAARC summit by the prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani president General Musharraf in which India reiterated its willingness to carry on the composite dialogue with Pakistan on all issues including Jammu and Kashmir . And Pakistan reaffirmed that it would not allow its territory or territory under its control to be used for carrying out terrorist activities anywhere,' he added. Advani enlisted what he described 'the successful holding of talks' between Hurriet and Government of India as the fourth 'landmark event' which contributed to 'sea change' in the state. 'Before 'actual transformation', which I referred to, there was a sense of cynicism or skepticism whether it would actually happen or not. Spelling this skepticism, the outcome in all cases exceeded all expectations,' he asserted. 'These factors have generated intense desire for peace and normalcy in people of the state. Secondly they have also helped establishing very high level credibility of Government of India in international community besides among the people of the state. All this gives satisfaction as I've already said but still we can't afford to let our vigil down,' he added. Advani briefed that he personally saw security men on the borders taking steps to stop infiltration. 'During my visit, the Chief Of Armed Staff (COAS) told me that the steps being taken are of nature in which over a period we should reach a point whether there is infiltration or no infiltration, it does not depend entirely on forces on the other side of the border. And I felt that is the right approach. In totality, my visit to Jammu was very satisfactory and was reassuring about future,' he stated. In reply to a query about the situation on borders, the deputy prime minister averred that after the ceasefire, there was no shelling, cross border firing and there was 'total peace'. Discovering the message of 'wind of change' in the Republic Day address of minister for finance Muzaffar Hussain Beig wherein he invited the prime minister to contest from the state, the deputy prime minister quipped who would have thought some ten years ago or say even five years back that the 'Pravakta' (spokesperson) of ruling coalition could ever invite the prime minister of India to contest from Kashmir with the assurance that all the parties would support him to ensure that he would represent the state in the parliament. 'Though this is a different matter that Vajpayee Sahib wants to contest from his Lucknow constituency yet this invitation itself reflects sea change with regard to situation as well as credibility of the central government among people of the state,' he asserted while thanking the finance minister for his 'gracious offer' to the prime minister. Earlier, the deputy prime minister, who arrived behind the schedule by almost one and a half hour, seeking apology from the media persons, extended greetings of Republic Day. 'It is a matter of pleasure that Republic Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm in the entire state and it passed off without any untoward incident,' he averred. He congratulated Jammuites for Dogri's inclusion in the eighth schedule of constitution. 'Finally their long pending demand to accord Dogri its due status has been met as the two houses of the parliament in the winter session made an amendment in the constitution paving way for it,' the deputy prime minister added. He stated that recently when the chief secretary of the state visited New Delhi , he (Advani) asked how the fencing was going on and expressed his desire to visit IB and LoC. 'The chief secretary had maintained that my visit would encourage those engaged in the job. That's how I decided to visit the state after winter session. And my visit was very successful,' Advani briefed.