Stop Dreaming Of Kashmir, Vajpayee Tells Pakistan
17 September 2000
The Hindustan Times
Washington DC: RULING OUT any dialogue with Pakistan yet again, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Saturday had a piece of advice for Islamabad: ''Stop dreaming about getting Kashmir, for it is never going to happen.'' On the eve of his departure home after a highly successful visit to the US, Mr Vajpayee told a wildly-cheering Indian-American audience: Why go and talk to them and sign new agreements when they are not prepared to honour the old agreements? The Prime Minister''s reference clearly was to Pakistan military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf''s virtual repudiation of the Simla Accord and the Lahore Declaration in some of his recent interviews to the media. Having a dig at the US for trying to nudge India to resume the dialogue with Pakistan, Mr Vajpayee quizzed: ''Lekin kya baat karen unse? Mausam kaisa hai? Biwi bachchon ka kya haal hai?'' (But what do you talk with them? Ask about the weather? Or enquire about their family?) The Indian-American community that had packed into the Constitution Hall seemed to love every moment of it as Mr Vajpayee laced his speech with customary wit. Once again, the contrast with his out-of-sorts appearances at some of his official engagements was all too palpable. India, said Mr Vajpayee, wants to have good, friendly relations with all, particularly its neighbours. ''And we do have good relations with all our neighbours, except one. Even then, I took the bus (to Lahore) only to find that it had reached Kargil,'' he remarked. After Pakistan mounted the Kargil offensive, there was a clamour in India ''that we should cross the Line of Control and give them a fitting reply''. But India restrained itself because it was genuinely interested in peace and harmonious living, he said and quizzed: ''Who will now believe the (Pakistani) propaganda that we are not interested in peace?'' Mr Vajpayee''s references to the Pokhran tests were also greeted with much jubilation. A country of the size of India needed to secure itself, all the more so after the three aggressions against it in the last 50 years, he said adding: ''After Pokhran, people now see us in a different light.'' Taunting the nuclear powers for their double standards on nuclear-related issues, the Prime Minister remarked: ''The anxiety of some over India going nuclear may be understandable. But we just couldn''t imagine that those unwilling to destroy their own nuclear arsenals would become so angry with us.'' Mr Vajpayee assured the Indian community that things are changing back home. ''Our coalition government is running well and the economic reforms are on course,'' he said adding the challenge now was to use the economic progress to usher n social justice.