Friday, June 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Pak epicentre of terror: Advani
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Los Angeles, June 12
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, today asked Pakistan to give up its “futile path of confrontation” with India. “We are determined to decimate the scourge of terrorism, so that people in Jammu and Kashmir can prosper and live in peace”.

In the same breath, he said Pakistan must demonstrate that it was sincere in its efforts in responding to the peace offer made by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and in implementing the promises it had made with the USA and the international community to dismantle the Jehadi terrorist infrastructure that they have spawned and fostered.

Mr Advani made this hard-hitting statement in his address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, which had hosted a lunch in his honour here yesterday afternoon.

Mr Advani, who was speaking on “Indo-US relations in a strategic perspective”, made this comment towards the end of his speech, when he referred to India and the USA being “partners” in the fight against Jehadi terrorism. He warmed up to this warning to Pakistan after referring to the waves of terrorism directed against India for the past two decades adding: “The epicentre of international terrorism lies in India’s immediate neighbourhood. It gives me no joy in pointing fingers, but the involvement of Pakistan can no longer be ignored”.

Therefore, India and the USA had to work actively to defeat the menace of terrorism “fueled by religious extremism”. He went on to say, “Barbarities committed by cross-border terrorism in India is sought to be rationalised and justified by invoking the issue of Kashmir. The facts of history and reality of today are known to all observers of Indo-Pak relations”.

India, he said, was willing to discuss all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, with Pakistan. He was “hopeful” that the results would be positive this time.

Observers said the outcome of what Mr Advani has discussed in Washington and said today would be known from what Mr Bush and Gen. Musharraf talk. With these observations, Mr Advani has subtly placed the ball in Bush’s court. It is yet another reminder to the US President that he must rein in General Pervez Musharraf. Incidentally, Gen, Musharraf is also slated to address the World Affairs Council at the same venue, Arcadia Ballroom of Hotel Loews Santa Monica Beach on the Pacific Ocean coast, on June 27.

Referring to Pakistan’s involvement in J and K, Mr Advani said over 60,000 innocent Indians had lost their lives, and India’s people, Parliament, temples, aircraft, trains and buses had been attacked. “The sponsors and instigators of this terrorism hail from the same common pool that also provides terrorists that have been active in the USA.

Thus, it was in this backdrop that strategic relationship between India and the USA became imperative. The two are natural allies and also world’s largest democracies. This would mean networking as “engaged democracies” rather than “estranged democracies”, which together will work for building a peaceful, democratic and economically prosperous world. “There is the expected resonance in the US leadership to what I have discussed during my meetings”.

Mr Advani also answered several questions from the members of the Council and later addressed a press conference. Most of the questions were on the expected lines and related to Pakistan, India’s response to deploy troops in Iraq or why it had sought nuclear exchanges programme with the US etc. On the last question he replied, “India is a nuclear power but its policy is clear: no first use of nuclear power against any nuclear country and no use of nuclear energy against a non-nuclear state”. On a question on offer of Mr Vajpayee to “retire”, it was explained that having made two attempts to bring peace with Pakistan, this was third offer made at Srinagar on April 18. Was it to fail, he would not make any more efforts.

He outlined the positive fallout of the policy of liberalisation and opening up of the economy that has improved the health indices of the people and also enabled India to build a comfortable food stock of 46 million tonnes. The economy was robust and had registered an average annual growth rate of 5 per cent to 6 per cent since 1992. The foreign reserve exchange was more than $ 79 billion. The Indian economy had been propelled by the service sector, particularly, knowledge-based industry. India’s software exports had reached $ 10 billion per annum and by 2008 the industry is expected to cross $ 87 billion in software exports. “Information technology is becoming signature tune”.


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