October 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India
J&K poll turning point: Advani
New Delhi, October 13
However, he asserted that there would be no talks with Pakistan or Pakistan-backed terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir until Pakistan stopped sponsoring cross-border terrorism. The Deputy Prime Minister was hopeful that the latest Assembly elections in the state would prove to be a turning point in India’s efforts to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue.
“Now the dialogue process will be mainly with the elected representatives of the Jammu and Kashmir who will be participating. It will be on the devolution of powers and issues like relations between Srinagar and New Delhi, even Leh and Jammu”, he said.
Addressing the media for over an hour on the occasion of the successful completion of three years in office by the NDA government, Mr Advani answered questions on a variety of subjects, including recent elections in Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan, dialogue with Islamabad, Lok Sabha elections in 2004, the NDA government’s performance and the controversy over disinvestment.
He said the BJP would fight the next Lok Sabha poll under the leadership of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, and announced that even if his party secured a majority in the next elections, the NDA coalition would continue.
Describing the successful completion of the Jammu & Kashmir elections as the biggest achievement of the NDA government and a victory of Indian democracy and defeat of the ISI and its subsidiaries, the Deputy Prime Minister again said cross-border terrorism had to be abandoned before a meaningful dialogue could begin.
Mr Advani said he was in position to make two predictions safely and with responsibility — one the government would overcome cross-border terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir with the active support of people like it did in Punjab and secondly “I have no doubt that these elections will prove a turning point in our efforts to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue.”
“But from the government’s point of view I will like to repeat what I have said earlier: the real winner in this election has been India and its democracy and the actual loser has been ISI and the terrorist subsidiaries it has nurtured,” he said.
Replying to questions, the Deputy Prime Minister said even before the elections, the government had initiated a process of dialogue with the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
So far as Pakistan was concerned, Mr Advani made it clear that India was willing to have a dialogue with that country on all issues, including Kashmir on which we have a different view.
“But dialogue and cross-border terrorism cannot go together. It has to stop and Pakistan has to abandon cross-border terror before any purposeful dialogue can take place. This is our approach”.
The Deputy Prime Minister also pointed out that the future of Indo-Pak dialogue was not dependent on the nature of the government there but on its stand vis-a-vis cross-border terrorism.
“India’s decision in respect of a dialogue will not be with respect to the government (in Pakistan)”, Mr Advani said, recalling that New Delhi had invited the head of a military government to Agra for a dialogue.
“... but the dialogue at Agra crumbled because General Pervez Musharraf called terrorism in Kashmir a freedom struggle. That stand made the Agra Summit futile,” he said. “We will take up all issues if Pakistan stops cross-border terrorism. At present, there’s no question of a dialogue,” he said.
Asked whether the government would talk to the Hurriyat and militants and continue with mediation by the Ram Jethmalani-headed Kashmir Committee, he said the government had earlier stated that people of Jammu and Kashmir should elect their representatives as they would be the authentic voice of the people. “We will consult the new government as to who we should talk to and who else not to”, he said.
To a question whether the government would talk to terrorists, the Deputy Prime Minister said as far as terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir was concerned there could be no talks with those sent from Afghanistan or Pakistan.
He said when he talked of a dialogue with the militants, it was in reference to those disaffected like Bodos and Nagas and similarly placed youths in Jammu and Kashmir, provided they shed arms.
Mr Advani said the results of the Pakistan parliamentary poll had “deepened” India’s concerns over cross-border terrorism as it had not “strengthened democracy but military rule.” After the elections in Pakistan, the extremist forces there had become stronger.
Pakistan had anyway not fulfilled the promises it made to the world on ending cross-border terrorism, Mr Advani said. He said Pakistan and the militant organisations sponsored by it had “spared no effort” to see that the elections in Jammu and Kashmir did not take place but had “failed”.
To a question on the government’s achievement in curbing terrorism which had spread to various parts of the country, Mr Advani said under the NDA government the battle against the terrorists had “become a two-way affair” with the terrorists being decimated as against the “one-sided” violence that happened in eighties and nineties as it happened in Punjab.
“The year 2001 saw the highest number of terrorists killed and one of the biggest sustainable sources of terrorism were ISI modules. The government had located and destroyed 161 such modules in the country,” he said.
“Fight against terrorism will continue and it will be brought to its end,” he said, adding that occurrence of an attack was not a reflection of intelligence failure.
“It would be unfair to call all terrorist incidents as intelligence failure,” he said, adding that he was in the know of several cases where intelligence inputs had helped avert terrorist attacks.
“If there is one development which simultaneously show-cases our commitment to national security, national unity and integrity and democracy, it is the successful completion of the elections in Jammu & Kashmir,” he said.
Mentioning India’s success in isolating Pakistan in the international community and its victory in the Kargil war, Mr Advani said India’s efforts to strengthen its national security were illustrated by courageous initiatives to make it a nuclear weapons state and its uncompromising handling of the post-Pokharan fallout.
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