M A I N   N E W S

PM sees hope in Pak response
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, April 14
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said the Kashmir problem would be solved within the constitutional framework and violence was no answer to it. He said the Lok Sabha elections in the state would be held in a free and fair manner like the last assembly elections.

Mr Vajpayee was addressing a large election meeting in the Parade Ground here this afternoon.

He said terrorism would never succeed, but it had stalled the development of the state.

The Prime Minister said the terrorist attack on an election rally at Uri that killed several innocent persons had been criticised worldwide. Any problem could be solved through talks, he stressed

He said Pakistan had made a commitment that it would not allow its soil to be used for carrying out terrorist activities in India and both the countries would resolve the dispute through mutual negotiations. Had Pakistan adopted this posture during the Agra Summit, the peace talks could have made much progress by now. He was, however, satisfied that things had started moving in the right direction and instead of shells being fired on the Indian territory, teams of the two countries were playing cricket.

Mr Vajpayee said the two countries had fought many wars, but nothing was achieved. India had been stressing for a negotiated settlement to the outstanding disputes. It was encouraging that Pakistan had reciprocated positively to the peace offer. We want everlasting peace with our neighbours.

He said the rights of women should not be allowed to be scuttled through the Bill on daughters of the state. The matter should be discussed thoroughly.

The Centre had provided financial packages worth Rs 30,889 crore to the state and several development works were in progress. The Kashmir valley would be linked to the country by rail on August 15 next year, the Prime Minister said. He said the Centre had framed policies keeping in view the peculiar problems of the three regions of the state. Special steps had been taken for the resettlement of border migrants and the displaced residents of Kashmir.

Mr Vajpayee said coalition government was a new experiment in the state. He hoped the experiment would work, pointing out that the Congress had never allowed the governments of other parties to function. The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre was providing all support to the state government, he added.

He said the thrust of the NDA government was on removing poverty and unemployment. It was unfortunate that while other countries had developed with the help of science and technology, India was still being considered an under-developed nation.

Besides others, Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, Minister of State for Defence, and the state BJP chief, Dr Nirmal Singh, who are BJP candidates for Udhampur and Jammu seats respectively, were present at the rally.

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