Saturday, November 3, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

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Create atmosphere for talks, Vajpayee tells Pakistan
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 2
Favouring a dialogue, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, reiterated that Pakistan must stop cross-border terrorism and create a congenial atmosphere for a negotiated solution to the Kashmir problem. Addressing a state-level active workers conference here on the opening day of the two-day national executive committee meeting of the BJP, Mr Vajpayee maintained that though Kashmir was an integral part of the India, “we are still ready for a dialogue — through we cannot be coerced into one.”

Mr Vajpayee said that India was ready to face any threat and would not allow any infiltration. Though there was some troop movement along the Indo-Pak border, yet India was exercising restraint — which could not continue for long. “There appears to be no solution in sight,” he added.

Reiterating his decision not to meet General Musharraf in the USA during his coming visit, he said that this was not because of any enmity. “When General Musharraf came here, we explained to him that Kashmir was an integral part of India. He wanted that the USA meeting should be in continuation of the Agra Summit. Why Agra, why not Lahore and why not Shimla?” he asked. It was from his holy city of Amritsar that the (Mr Vajpayee) had gone to Lahore with a message of friendship to fight terrorism unitedly and create good-will.

While friendship festivities were on, attack on Kargil was being planned. I do not know whether the then Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif, had any knowledge of his attack or not. But we were cheated,” he asserted.

“We can make new friends, but we have to live with our neighbours. We just cannot wish them away. With friendly neighbourhood, we can fight terrorism, poverty and other problems facing our countries. The Indian economy is in an excellent shape. We have peace, stability and communal harmony, he emphasised.

“Pakistan must dispel its hatred for India and stop talking about Jammu & Kashmir, which is not a piece of land, but an integral part of our motherland,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that most of the visiting leaders from other nations were convinced about India’s stand on Kashmir. Without naming Pakistan, he said that the attack on the J&K Assembly was masterminded by outsiders who had neither knowledge of the Assembly nor about its members.

Referring to the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, he said that these would be conducted in a free and fair manner and anyone was welcome to contest them.

Mr Vajpayee also referred to the ongoing war against terrorism which had brought the entire world together. “We had been advocating for a united war against terrorism for a long time. But no one listened to us earlier,” he said hoping that war against terrorism would succeed.

Mr Vajpayee praised the Shiromani Akali Dal was always in the forefront of fight for security, unity and integrity of the country. The NDA Government enjoyed cordial relationship with the Punjab Government, he underlined.

He also hoped to meet the Sikhs living in the USA during his coming visit and said that he had taken up the issue for their security and safety with the President, George Bush, after reports of some unfortunate incidents were reported following the September 11 terrorist attack in USA.

Earlier, on his arrival here, Mr Vajpayee was received by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the BJP leadership of the state.
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SIDELIGHTS
Badal meets Vajpayee
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 2
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, called on the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, here this evening. What transpired at the meeting between the two leaders, which lasted about 15 minutes, was not known immediately. Mr Badal has been camping here for the past two days.

* * *

The Prime Minister expressed his regrets for his failure to visit the Golden Temple and Durgiana Mandir during his current visit. He promised to talk about national issues during his next visit to the city on November 18.

* * *

Cine Star Shatrughan Sinha was the main attraction at the media centre in the evening. He answered variety of questions on his stand on various national and international issues and also talked about the communication gap between the top leadership and the active worker of the party.

* * *

There were discussions on terrorism during the evening session. The party’s stand on ending cross-border terrorism and wiping out terrorism from within the country were the major points of discussion. Issues related to POTO also came up for discussion.

* * *

The Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Pramod Mahajan, was conspicuous by his absence on the opening day today. He is expected to arrive here tomorrow.
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