Thursday, February 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Advani rules out referendum in J&K

Singapore, February 5
Rejecting Pakistan’s insistence on a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said today that granting independence to people on religious, ethnic or regional lines would lead to disintegration of the country.

“There is no question of a referendum. If a referendum is given on ethnic, religious or regional lines....the consequences can be disintegration of the country,” he told a press conference winding up his three-day visit to Singapore.

Hypothetically, if both India and Pakistan decide to go for a referendum, Pakistan would disintegrate, with people in Sindh, Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province also demanding the same, he said. In reply to a question, he also made it clear that New Delhi would not allow peace to be held hostage to the differences with Pakistan.

The issue of tension on the Indo-Bangladesh border also came up at the press conference and the Deputy Prime Minister asked Bangladesh to cooperate in reducing it by taking back the illegal immigrants.

Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir was “historically, legally and constitutionally” a part of India, Mr Advani said the people of the state had decided in 1947 to remain with India and representatives of the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly had decided that they would go with India. Referring to a recent opinion poll carried out by a British agency, he said even now the people of the state wanted to remain with India.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the touchstone for normalcy in the state was the return of Kashmiri Pandits.

Asked whether India wanted to form an international coalition of its own to fight terrorism in this part of the world, Mr Advani said: “We have no such intention and we are determined to overcome our problem of cross-border terrorism on our own and we are confident that we will do so”.

India expects from the world community a broad commitment that they will not assist any country which directly or indirectly promotes terrorism,” he said.

“If Pakistan had not been given assistance by members of the international coalition against terrorism so far, it would not have been able to continue aiding and abetting cross-border terrorism,” Mr Advani said, adding that “entire India was a target of terrorism”.

Consolidating regional security, India and Singapore agreed to explore the possibilities of signing an extradition treaty, an agreement on mutual legal assistance on criminal matters and establishing a joint working group on combating terrorism and organised crime.

Mr Advani said his discussions with Singaporean leadership on regional security “underlined our shared view that terrorism has no justification and must be eliminated.”

“We re-stated our commitment to countering this grave threat to democratic, multi-religious and multi-cultural societies such as ours. we condemn the recent terrorist acts in South and Southeast Asia. We are convinced that all nations should extend full cooperation in rooting out terrorism,” he said in a statement.

Mr Advani, who met Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Deputy Premier Lee Hsien Loong, President S.R. Nathan and senior minister Lee Kuan Yew, said: “We have agreed to explore the possibility of entering into an extradition treaty, a mutual legal assistance treaty on criminal matters, and extablishing a joint working group on combating terrorism and organised crime.” PTI


India shoots down Pak UAV

New Delhi, February 5
India today shot down a Pakistani unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at Mendhar in the Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir, the Army said. An Army spokesman said the wreckage of the UAV had been found at about 400 metres inside the Line of Control on the Indian side. The UAV was shot down soon after it entered the Indian airspace. The debris of the UAV has not yet been recovered due to bad weather and also because of the presence of Pakistani pickets on either side. UNI

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