Monday, October 23, 2000,
 Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Advani rules out talks on J&K
From T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 22 — Union Home Minister L.K. Advani does not see any fresh prospects of talks with either the Hizbul Mujahideen or the All-Party Hurriyat Conference for finding a solution to the protracted Kashmir problem.

He said the National Democratic Alliance government had responded positively when a militant outfit in Jammu and Kashmir comprising mainly of Kashmiris declared a unilateral ceasefire and made a proposal for dialogue.

The Vajpayee government went ahead even though it was conscious of the fact that the offer itself could not have been made without Pakistan’s acquiescence if not total approval. Whatever the reasons be, Pakistan first acquiesced and later engineered an incident for subverting the peace process.

Mr Advani said the result of all this was that even sections in Jammu and Kashmir which were not appreciative of New Delhi’s approach to the problems of the border state had been extremely embittered and unhappy with Pakistan’s attitude.

“This is because they feel that for the first time in many, many years there were some prospects of peace and Pakistan subverted that process. To that extent it has been a gain as militant outfits which get all their sustenance from Pakistan will not be able to do much by themselves”, he observed in an exclusive interview.

He said the successes that the security forces have been getting in J and K in dealing with the scourge of cross border terrorism, particularly in the past couple of months coupled with mounting international pressure on Pakistan, has made Islamabad “realise that this is a futile exercise.”

Therefore, the Home Minister was candid in saying that “at the present point of time, I do not see any talks taking place.”

In this context Mr Advani drew pointed attention to the issue of resuming the stalled dialogue with Pakistan. Keeping doors open for discussions with Pakistan changed after Pakistan’s misadventure in Kargil. Prior to Kargil the Union Government had consistently maintained that problems between India and Pakistan should be sorted out through dialogue and discussions.

He recalled that after Kargil, Pakistan undertook operations like the massacre of innocent persons in Chittisingpura which forced the Union Government “to crystallise its stand. The NDA government took the firm decision that “there is no point in discussing anything with Pakistan as long as cross-border terrorism continues. Only when cross border terrorism stops, we will have a dialogue with Pakistan.”

Mr Advani said the other object of Hizb’s proposal was to involve Pakistan in tripartite talks with India on the Kashmir tangle. He was emphatic that “if at any point of time Pakistan puts an end to cross-border terrorism, the Union Government will be willing to discuss with Pakistan all issues, including Kashmir.”

The Union Home Minister acknowledged that there were sections in this country which had taken to militancy, be it in J and K or elsewhere, and subsequently came forward for holding talks with the Union Government. “The government will be willing to discuss with them their grievances provided they gave up the gun. This approach was first adopted with the Naga rebels, then the Bodo Liberation Tigers and when a militant outfit in J and K comprising mainly of Kashmiris made the same proposal.”

Alluding to different strands of policy in J and K, Mr Advani said cross-border terrorism was an issue which had to be tackled within the country. As cross-border terrorism had international dimensions, world opinion has to be mobilised in combating this menace.

“I think the government has achieved a measure of success as a few years ago world opinion on the issue relating to J and K was not very much in our favour. There was some leaning in favour of Pakistan, despite Islamabad indulging in major incidents of violence essentially to draw international opinion to the problem of Kashmir. India wants to focus not so much on Kashmir as on international or cross-border terrorism.”

Further, Mr Advani recalled his own interaction with leaders in Israel, the United Kingdom and France when he toured these countries recently as well as other countries like the USA and the Russian Federation. These countries recognise Pakistan as a country which has resorted to cross-border terrorism and which promotes it as a state policy. “All these countries are willing to cooperate with us in all respects to combat international terrorism.”

On communal riots and political violence in states like West Bengal, the Union Home Minister said “ever since we came to office we were concerned about communal violence because of the image attributed to us by our adversaries.” On the whole, he noted “when I see the statistics relating to communal violence or riots during the period 1990 to 2000, 1999 and 2000 have been years in which communal violence or rioting were minimum. At the same time even the fewer number of incidents that take place do bother us.”

Mr Advani said states have been instructed to take salutory action against wrong-doers. He was satisfied that by and large state governments have been responsive to the Centre’s suggestions. On political violence, he said the Centre has advised the West Bengal Government to restrain such incidents. “I hope they will be to able do it.”

The Union Home Minister took exception and refused to comment on the recent pronouncements of RSS chief K Sudarshan calling for setting up “swadeshi” churches and Indianising Islam. “It would be appropriate if those particular organisations are questioned in this regard and not the government. In this country everyone has his analysis of problems which may be historical. The government has its own views and policies in ensuring that every section of the population has the fullest advantage of constitutional guarantees be it freedom of religion, freedom of expression or freedom of opportunity.”

Asked what steps the government was taking to gear up intelligence gathering after the Kargil episode, Mr Advani was firm that the “failure of intelligence is a conclusion that you have drawn. That is not the conclusion of the government.”

On the four task forces set up to critically study intelligence gathering, border management, internal security and management of defence and make recommendations for beefing up these critical areas, the Union Home Minister said the task forces had submitted voluminous reports to the government.


‘No trifurcation’

SRINAGAR, Oct 22 (UNI) — Union Home Minister L.K. Advani today rejected the demands for autonomy and trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir but favoured talks with militants willing to lay down arms.

Talking to mediapersons after a daylong meeting with members of the state legislature and members of the Unified Command Council, Mr Advani said the Centre had rejected the autonomy demand of the Jammu and Kashmir Government as it was not possible to return to the Pre-1953 status.

The Central Government did not agree with this, he said. However, he said, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had invited Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to discuss the issue of giving more powers to states.

“The manifesto of the National Democratic Alliance government also speaks about the devolution of more power to states,” he said adding that “we are committed to it”.

Asked as to what had been done in this regard, Mr Advani said: “We had some informal talks with the state government on this issue.”

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