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Vajpayee writes to PM
Says Indo-Pak peace process Kashmir-centric
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16
Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has accused the Congress-led UPA Government of making the Indo-Pak peace process "Kashmir-centric" and thus allowing Pakistan to slip out of its earlier commitment to India.

Mr Vajpayee has also blamed the Manmohan Singh-led government for the Hurriyat Conference getting prominence over the democratically-elected government of Jammu and Kashmir.

"With great effort and sustained strategy, Pakistan was made to commit to comprehensive process of normalisation leading to the Joint Statement of January 6, 2004. But it seems the peace process has now become Kashmir-centric, an objective cherished by the establishment in Pakistan," Mr Vajpayee said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a copy of which was released to the Press by the BJP today.

Drawing the Prime Minister's attention to three "disturbing turns" the peace process with Islamabad has taken, the veteran BJP leader said "the first of these is the prominence being given to the Hurriyat over the democratically elected government of Jammu and Kashmir."

"A year ago there was a distinction between the moderates and the hard-liners (in the Hurriyat Conference). Today the moderates are totally pro-Pakistan," he said.

"I would have thought that the Hurriyat leaders would have had talks with you or your Home Minister before going to Pakistan," he said adding "But no, they go to Pakistan, repeat every statement made by Gen Musharraf, and then condescend to say that they would go to Delhi as well."

Observing that the second disturbing element was the way Hurriyat leaders' visit to Pakistan was "mishandled" by the Indian authorities, Mr Vajpayee said "they should have been given Indian passports and asked to enter Pakistan across the International Border."

"The initial stand that they (Hurriyat leaders) would not be allowed to go without passports and visas was reversed. Officials gave the impression that our Government is running after them to hand them passports and finally they travelled to Pakistan against the established norms of international travel," he said.

Thirdly, our Government seems to be allowing Pakistan to slip out of the commitments it had made in the January 6, 2004 statement -- that terrorism shall be eschewed, that there shall be no third party, and so on.

"Events of the last fortnight show that once again Pakistan is reviving and keeping open the options of incorporation of Kashmir through violence, through "independence" or through "autonomy/self governance", Mr Vajpayee said

"The murderous attack in Pulwama, the revelation by JKLF leader Mr Yasin Malik, the statements of Salahuddin, the head of Hizbul Mujahideen and the Muttahida Jihad Council, all point to this disturbing trend," he asserted.

The former Prime Minister, however, at the end of his two-page letter asserted that: "All of us want the peace process to succeed. But that success would consist in Pakistan abandoning the violence it has been sponsoring and in creating an atmosphere in which the people of India and Pakistan have enough inter-dependencies to make other things irrelevant."

Meanwhile, BJP Spokesperson and former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha wanted to know what was the compulsion of the UPA Government in not rebutting some of the statements from Pakistani authorities which was not in line with commitments given by them.

"We are happy that the UPA Government has made effort to carry forward the peace process initiated by Vajpayee-led NDA Government, but the statements from the Pakistani authorities which are not in line with commitments should not be allowed to go unchallenged," he added.

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