Tuesday, February 20, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak stalling peace process: President
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
India today blamed Pakistan for stalling the peace process in Kashmir, saying “its protestations about its eagerness to resume talks with India will not carry conviction so long as it allows the terrorists’ guns and bombs to do the talking.”

The President, Mr K.R.Narayanan, in his address to Parliament minced no words in highlighting the complicity of Pakistan in the continuing crossborder terrorism and anti-India propaganda. “Many innocent lives continue to be lost everyday to acts of barbarism by those who cloak them in the garb of jehad. Pakistan bears the responsibility for these acts against humanity, which are a travesty of religion”, he added.

The President said should Pakistan create an atmosphere conducive for meaningful talks, India would be more than ready to resume the dialogue process. He reiterated the government’s readiness to have talks with every group in the state that abjures violence.

The President, speaking in the backdrop of the Gujarat earthquake, dealt at length on the steps taken and those being contemplated by the government to mitigate the impact of a national calamity. The government would consider setting up a permanent National Disaster Management Authority, with suitable statutory authorities in states, he added.

On the pending Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament, the President urged all political parties to arrive at a consensus and pass the Bill during the Budget session as a fitting tribute to the “Year of Women’s Empowerment” which is being observed this year.

Advocating steps to curb the rapid population growth, the President said it was necessary to evolve, in concert with states, a set of incentives and disincentives.

The President called for removing the inequality in social and economic life, adding that the country’s freedom and democracy would be incomplete until it is made a land of justice and equal opportunity for its billion plus citizens.

In this regard, he spoke about making available common minimum basic services like education and drinking water. Spelling out the initiatives taken by the government in the field of education, especially for girls, the President said the government would step up efforts for vocationalisation of education and enable the youth to start their own enterprises as well as new self-employment ventures.

Saying that the wealth of a nation lies chiefly in the health of its citizens, the President said a new health policy would soon be unveiled which would draw upon the positive as well as negative lessons of the past efforts to achieve the unmet goal of “Health for All”. Speaking on the need to reduce delays in litigation, the President said two specific schemes have been initiated for this purpose. The first involves the setting up of 1,734 fast track courts and the second was a pilot project for computerisation and networking of courts in four metros.

On the country’s foreign policy, Mr Narayanan said its principal thrust was to promote an external network of peaceful and friendly relation, which would enable the government to focus on the internal task of nation-building.

He said India was committed to friendly and good neighbourly ties with China based on the Panchsheel and mutual sensitivity to each other’s concerns. He also highlighted India’s growing relationship with Russia, the USA, and the European countries.

Defending India’s minimum nuclear deterrent, the President pointed out that India’s candidature for the permanent membership of the UN Security Council was finding increasing support from the world community. He also spoke about the major initiatives taken by the government to strengthen its bonds with the Indian diaspora, who are 20 million in number.


PM gains breathing space
Decision on ceasefire 
TR Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
The Atal Behari Vajpayee government has sent a strong message to the major powers about Pakistan’s intransigience in stopping cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, thereby blocking the chances of resuming the bilateral dialogue.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government is hoping that a fresh enunciation of its stand by President K R Narayanan here today after having announced a unilateral ceasefire in the J and K in November will make Washington, London, Paris, Bonn, Moscow, Tokyo and Beijing among others, take note of the hard ground realities.

As the third extension of the cessation of combat operations against the militants expires on February 26, the government has sought to underline the near-hopeless situation in giving peace a chance in South Asia with Pakistan relentlessly aiding and abetting terrorism in J and K.

Further extension of the unilateral ceasefire in the sensitive border state in the wake of stepped up terrorist violence against the innocent is to be reviewed later this week.

A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) originally scheduled to be held on Sunday had inevitably to be postponed as the government wanted to convey its message through Parliament on the opening day of the crucial Budget session.

Outlining the government’s policies and programmes, Mr Narayanan expressed anguish that “many innocent lives continue to be lost everyday to acts of barbarism by those who cloak them in the garb of Jehad. Pakistan bears the responsibility for these acts against humanity which are a travesty of religion.”

The President’s strong observations against Pakistan and taking strong exception to Islamabad’s double-speak while allowing the terrorists’ guns and bombs to do the talking is a clear indication that New Delhi’s genuine desire to strengthen the forces of peace is being deliberately derailed by India’s northern neighbour.

It is apparent New Delhi wants to wait a while to see how world leaders and the international community views its consistent approach of trying to end militancy and violence which has been welcomed widely since Pakistan’s misadventure in the Kargil region of J and K in 1999.

The government feels with India showing tremendous restraint and patience all along, major world powers will put greater pressure on Pakistan to stop its machination of fuelling cross border terrorism through foreign mercenaries.

Authoritative sources said the CCS meeting after the Prime Minister returned from Mumbai would not have served any purpose. It was imperative for the government to first reaffirm its stand and commitment to finding a peaceful and permanent solution to the Kashmir issue. And the President has once again outlined India’s position in unambiguous terms that it is for “Pakistan to create an atmosphere conducive for meaningful talks and India will be more than ready to resume the dialogue process.”

On his part, Mr Vajpayee has some breathing space over this entire week to assess how New Delhi’s not so new formulation is viewed globally and in major capitals. That to a great extent is expected have a bearing in the deliberations of the CCS when it meets later this week to review the general situation in J and K. This assumes importance as some powerful sections in the government are stoutly opposed to extending the unilateral ceasefire.

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