August 2001 News

We''ll crush proxy war: Advani

9 August 2001
The Asian Age
Seema Mustafa

New Delhi: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is keeping the door open for talks with Pakistan while his home minister, Mr L.K. Advani, is determined to “crush” the “proxy war of multiple dimensions unleashed by an inimical neighbouring country.” He said the government would thwart the “nefarious designs” of not only the terrorists but also their “mentors” across the border but was unable to convince the Opposition parties, who walked out of both Houses of Parliament. The Union home minister, who has been openly accused by Pakistan of “sabotaging” the Agra summit, was very clear about the “government’s determined bid to crush militancy and terrorism in the state of Jammu and Kashmir” while replying to a call attention motion on the violence in Kashmir in Parliament on Thursday. He said that Pakistan, although he did not name the “inimical” country, “had no qualms in rationalising the brutal killing of innocent men, women and children as a freedom struggle.” Mr Advani spelt out his hardline policy in Parliament on Thursday, stating categorically that “the government is determined to thwart the nefarious designs of the terrorists and their mentors across the border and not let the counter-insurgency grid be thinned out.” He made it clear the government would not reduce the “anti-infiltration posture of our security forces,” adding that “we remain committed to take all possible steps” to protect the scattered and minority populations in the state. The hard speech was in marked contrast to Mr Vajpayee’s reply to a discussion on the Agra summit in the Lok Sabha earlier this week. The Prime Minister, while accusing Gen. Pervez Musharraf for the summit’s failure, was clear that the talks with Pakistan would continue as India was committed to peace. He said cross-border terrorism should be brought to an end, but the tone, while assertive, was overtaken by the phraseology which kept the doors wide open for a dialogue with Pakistan. Mr Vajpayee’s desire to continue with the initiative has the full backing of the Congress and Left parties, who have only cautioned the government against proceeding without a prepared structure. Opposition MPs in the Rajya Sabha were not impressed with Mr Advani’s hard talk with several pointing out the need for peaceful options in Jammu and Kashmir. The Prime Minister has also found considerable support within the NDA allies all of whom, including the Telugu Desam, have supported his peace initiative in Parliament with the condition that the next meeting with Gen. Musharraf be backed with preparatory work. Mr Advani’s harsh and hard approach, on the other hand, has failed to convince the Opposition and the allies but has got him the full support of the BJP and the Shiv Sena in Parliament. He is the “hero,” as a senior MP put it, of Agra and “prevented ‘them’ from selling our country to Pakistan.” He has also earned kudos in print and verbally from the RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and large segments of the Sangh Parivar who do not want Mr Vajpayee to even have a breakfast meeting with Gen. Musharraf at New York. The Prime Minister, who has been visibly upset about the attack launched against him and his aides on a variety of issues from within the BJP and the RSS, seems set to take his peace initiative forward. Sources close to him point out that Mr Vajpayee is committed to a resolution of the Kashmir issue and will “do all he can to ensure that the talks continue.” The sources admitted, however, that Pakistan will have to stop the ongoing violence in Jammu and Kashmir otherwise it would make “Vajpayeeji’s task more difficult.” Mr Advani, on the other hand, is determined to keep cross-border terrorism as a solid pre-condition in the foreground. As he indicated in Parliament, the soft approach is over and the government will take off the kid gloves to crush terrorism in the state. The home minister, whose views are being echoed by the RSS and the Parivar, is being defended stoutly by his supporters who have launched an open attack against Mr Vajpayee on Delhi’s seminar circuit. Academics and journalists close to the BJP are spearheading the campaign which has put the Prime Minister’s policy for peace effectively in the dock. Mr Advani maintained that since the ceasefire had been called off the security forces had had more success in dealing with the terrorists, with a larger number being killed in the month of June than before. He said 217 terrorists had been killed in June and 233 in July. He pointed out that the terrorist groups in Jammu and Kashmir had “showed total disregard for the yearning for peace and normalcy on the part of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and did not respond positively to the government’s unilateral Ramzan peace initiative.”


Return to the Archives 2001 Index Page

Return to Home Page