Tuesday, January 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Return PoK before talks: PM

Raipur, January 28
Injecting a new angle, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today ruled out talks with Pakistan until it returned the occupied Kashmir and said the short-range Agni missile was not directed against any country.

“Every day, I am reading newspaper reports that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf wants to have a discussion with me. Pakistan lost three wars and now wants a discussion with India”, Mr Vajpayee told a well-attended public meeting here.

“But when I went to Lahore to give discussion a fresh chance, we were given Kargil and the discussion with Musharraf in Agra also yielded nothing. On every occasion, Pakistan said Kashmir is the central issue.

“If Kashmir is the central issue, then one-third of Kashmir is occupied by Pakistan illegally. Therefore, they should return that to India first and then start talks,” Mr Vajpayee said asserting Kashmir was an integral part of India and none could separate that.

Mr Vajpayee said Jammu and Kashmir would go to the polls soon and challenged those trying to alienate Kashmiris from the mainstream to enter the poll arena to show their support and strength.

The Prime Minister said there was no democracy in Pakistan and the military government there had supported terrorist forces like the Taliban. Pakistan had no policy or principles, he said.

He said India wanted peace and economic prosperity in the Indian subcontinent. India’s fight against poverty, illiteracy and unemployment would continue and it would not join an arms race, but would also not lag behind in producing weapons to safeguard its borders.

He said despite political differences all parties were united to work for eliminating terrorism. Referring to the increasing activities of Naxalites, he said internal terrorism was also on the rise.

Mr Vajpayee said India had not committed any excesses in Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier at Sipat in Chhattisgarh he said: “Humne socha ki Taj Mahal dekh kar unke man main prem jagega, Taj Mahal unhe pasand bhi aaya, lekin vyavahar uske anusar nahin hua (we thought after seeing the Taj they will develop affection. They came and liked Taj Mahal but did not respond accordingly)”, he added.

“We will defend our country as well as bring development in every field”, the Prime Minister said.

Meanwhile, in Delhi leading Gandhians and social and human rights activists on Monday urged the Vajpayee government to react positively to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s recent statement on de-nuclearisation of the Indian subcontinent.

They also called for immediate resumption of the Samjhauta Express and the bus service linking Lahore and New Delhi, the two confidence-building measures that were stopped last month. PTI, UNIBack

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