Thursday, November 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Unilateral truce useless: Azad
Tribune News Service and pti

Jammu, November 6
The Congress said today that a unilateral ceasefire by Centre against militants in the state during Ramzan was of no use unless the other party “reciprocated it.”

“Ceasefire is useful only when the other party positively responds to it,” Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief and leader of Congress Legislature Party in the state Ghulam Nabi Azad said here, echoing the sentiments of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who had made the suggestion Yesterday.

“It was a good gesture on the part of the Centre to announce unilateral ceasefire earlier, but unfortunately, the other party did not respond,” Mr Azad told reporters outside his JKPCC headquarters here. Asked which was the other party, he said, “Obviously the militants and their patron across the border.”

“Even the BJP-led NDA government went in for a unilateral ceasefire not once but thrice, yet peace could not dawn in the state despite the Congress having supported it,” Mr Azad said, adding that although his party wanted to make all out efforts to ensure peace in the valley, it would “never compromise” on Jammu and Kashmir or its borders.

“We cannot adopt the same methods or move on beaten tracks for bringing peace in the state. That is why we gave a chance to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to lead the government for the first three years and will see how the situation improves under its leadership,” Mr Azad, who arrived in Jammu today, said.

Mr Azad said his party had accepted some conditions of the PDP but not in the way the PDP wanted it, to run a coalition government.

Criticising the NDA government, he said its earlier formulae had failed in restoration of peace in the state and militancy had only spread from the valley to almost all areas of Jammu division.

Without pointing towards anyone, Mr Azad cautioned political parties against playing dubious games in the state, saying the state had seen immense turmoil and could become a breeding ground for international conspiracies.

Mr Azad is here to pacify the ministers of the party who are up in arms against the “humiliation” meted out to them in the coalition government, in which the Chief Minister has allocated “insignificant” portfolios to them.

It is learnt that he has also been trying to cool down the party legislators who have not found a berth in the ministry. He is also expected to discuss the sharing of the four-Rajya Sabha seats among the coalition partners. The Congressmen and legislators of the Panthers Party and some Independents, who are supporting the PDP-led coalition, are annoyed that their men have been given portfolios which hardly have any direct contact with the masses.

There has been disappointment among these parties right from day one on the issue of portfolios and people have started speculating whether the coalition will be able to complete its full term.

Mr Azad said there was no need to get agitated on the issue because the portfolios would get changed when the ministry was expanded later this month after the election for the four Rajya Sabha seats. The government has also to win confidence on the floor of the House within a couple of days.

Replying to questions, Mr Azad said no portfolio was insignificant and it was for the ministers to make his departments important.

However, the legislators were not satisfied with this and one of the ministers did not go to his office in the Secretariat yesterday on the opening of government offices here for the winter months on the plea that he was busy in his constituency where an accident had taken place. Significance is being attached by the Opposition parties to the absence of the minister from the Secretariat yesterday morning.

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