Monday, February 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

PM’s no to convert LoC into border

Patna, February 3
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today ruled out conversion of the Line of Control (LoC) into the international border between India and Pakistan and asked the opposition parties to desist from raising contentious security-related issues as the border stand-off has created an “undeclared emergency-like situation” in the country.

“There won’t be any compromise on the LoC. I make it clear that the LoC will not be converted into the international border,” Mr Vajpayee told reporters here after inaugurating three railway projects. Asked if the return of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir would be a precondition for resumption of dialogue with Pakistan, he said he had not put any such precondition but the return of the PoK would top the agenda whenever the two sides resumed talks.

Earlier, addressing a public meeting at Gandhi Maidan where he launched the three projects through videoconferencing due to security reasons, Mr Vajpayee ruled out talks with Pakistan in the immediate future saying that no discussion would be fruitful unless Islamabad stopped exporting terrorism to India.

He said the involvement of Pakistani nationals in the attack on the American Center clearly showed Pakistan continued to fund and train terrorists despite joining the international coalition against terrorism.

Apparently referring to the Opposition attack on alleged irregularities in defence procurements during the Kargil conflict, Mr Vajpayee said the stand-off between the countries at the border had led to an “undeclared emergency-like situation” in the country and the opposition parties should shun raking up controversial issues relating to national security.

Petty politics should not come in the way of ensuring national security, the Prime Minister said.

“An undeclared emergency-like situation prevails in the country with India and Pakistan engaging in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation on the border....I urge the opposition parties not to raise contentious security-related issues as these adversely affect the morale of the armed forces,” he said.

“Emergency situations demand emergency measures.....We cannot continue to haggle infinitely over the prices of military equipment when the country’s sovereignty is at stake,” Mr Vajpayee said.

On the Ayodhya issue, he said no political party should make it a plank in the coming Assembly elections and the problem should be resolved either through talks.

Mr Vajpayee said, “We have fought three wars in the past but Pakistan is yet to realise that when it could not keep the people of East Bengal, now Bangladesh, despite the majority Muslim population there, it is unreasonable for it to stake its claim on the state of Jammu and Kashmir where there is majority Hindu and Buddhist population in the Jammu and Ladakh regions”.

Accusing Pakistan of treachery, he said “I had gone to Lahore with a message of goodwill but in return we got Kargil.”

The Prime Minister said even at the time of signing the Simla Agreement he, while in the Opposition, had suggested that India should build pressure on Pakistan to hand over the PoK in return for 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war (PoW).

“We had in our possession vast Pakistani land and their 90,000 PoWs and could have sought and might have even got the PoK in exchange for them but the Indian Government of that time paid no heed to my suggestion,” he said. PTIBack

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