PM accuses Musharraf of pursuing single agenda on J&K
11 November 2001
The Indian Express
New York: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has hit back at Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf accusing him of pursuing a single campaign on Kashmir and declared that India would never part with Kashmir and would give a fitting reply to any evil designs from the neighbour. ''There is only one issue on his mind... How to wrest Kashmir. But he will not get Kashmir. Kashmir is at the core of our nationhood,'' he said speaking at a reception hosted in his honour by the Indian American community in New York. Vajpayee''s comments came hours after Musharraf raked up the Kashmir issue in his speech in the UN General Assembly accusing India of committing atrocities in the border state. Referring to media reports of the attack by some Kashmiri militants at the Red Fort, Vajpayee said ''India is competent to give fitting reply'' to any evil designs from across the border. Vajpayee said he was harsh on Musharraf saying he saw him on television Saturday and he got the impression that the Pakistani President was ''trying to strengthen himself these days on the Kashmir issue.'' Musharraf was also trying to raise a bogey on the issue and to cash in on it with other countries, he said. ''Why is he asking for F-16s. What will you do with it,'' he asked referring to reports that Pakistan was pressing Washington for the release of 28 F16s held by it. Vajpayee told Pakistan ''you cannot win Kashmir through terror.'' He said those who supported Taliban were now fighting and using it to ''win favours from others''. Vajpayee referred to calls by various world leaders for restraint on the part of India and said India has been following a policy of restraint. He specifically referred to a telephonic call from Canadian Prime Minister who told him that India should follow restraint. ''I have been doing it. That is why there has been no war so far. In Lahore itself in 1999 Pakistan had conspired to do Kargil. But even then we had not crossed the Line of Control. Nor did we lose any land,'' he said adding in the past India had to give back some land taken from Pakistan in the three wars the country had won. In Kargil, he said, ''We did not give an inch of land.'' He said in the midst of Kargil war, then US President Bill Clinton called him to Washington when then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was there and told him ''we will settle Kashmir''. In a lighter vein, Vajpayee said he told Clinton not to spoil celebrations (of America''s Independence Day) and ''I also did not want to spoil my night''. When Pakistan decided to withdraw its intruders from Kargil they did not leave fully. ''We told them unless you leave every inch of Kargil there cannot be peace and understanding.'' He said terrorists had spoilt a generation of people in the Kashmir Valley where there was culture and harmony. There was Kashmiriyat but now in the name of religion things have taken a bad shape. ''Religion is different, culture is different,'' he added. Vajpayee also made light of Musharraf''s calls for dialogue with India saying ''now he says we should talk here (New York). Why talk outside. We will talk in Delhi.'' Referring to how politicians in the US reacted to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, he said the entire political spectrum was fully behind the government and there has so far been no criticism. But, he said, when Gujarat was devastated by the earthquake when people were rushing with aid to victims, the same evening political parties came down on the government.