May 2002 News

PM vows decisive battle

22 May 2002
The Asian Age

Srinagar: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Wednesday pledged to launch a decisive assault on cross-border terrorism. In a hard-hitting address to troops in the frontier district of Kupwara in Kashmir, the Prime Minister said the time had come to wage a ''decisive battle against cross-border terrorism.'' The Prime Minister said the national goal of development was being subverted by the proxy war being forced on the country. ''We must be prepared for sacrifices. Our goal is victory. It’s time to wage a decisive battle,'' he told the troops. Mr Vajpayee noted with some satisfaction that the world understood that injustice was being done to India. ''World opinion is on our side, but they are not saying so openly. We will have to defend ourselves on our own and we are prepared for this,'' he said. Mr Vajpayee reiterated that India wanted peace and not war. ''But war is being thrust on us and we’ll face it. Let there be no doubt about it. A challenge has been thrown to India and we accept it,'' he said, adding, ''My arrival here is indicative of something. Whether our neighbour understands it or not, whether the world takes note of it or not, history will recall that we will write a new chapter of victory... There is no doubt about it.'' Stating that Kargil was fresh in the nation’s memory, the Prime Minister said, ''We thought that repeated defeats may have led them to the right path, but when we were talking of peace, of abandoning enmity and living like good neighbours, they surreptitiously attacked us from the snow-clad mountains.'' He added, ''However, the way our troops evicted them from every inch of land was appreciated the world over. They were not even able to take back the bodies of their dead. We, however, gave them a decent burial because we had no enmity with dead soldiers.'' Turning to last week’s terrorist attack at Kaluchak, Mr Vajpayee asked, ''What jihad is it, what freedom struggle is it wherein a child is snatched from a mother?'' He said India knew how to respect even its enemies but that should not be seen as its weakness. ''That does not mean that we will keep extending our limit of tolerance. It should also not be taken that we are not alert,'' he added. The Prime Minister arrived here earlier on Wednesday morning on the second leg of his tour of Jammu and Kashmir. From Srinagar’s technical airport he took a helicopter to Kupwara. In Kupwara and Baramulla districts, he visited some of the forward border posts to meet troops who have been facing the enemy eyeball-to-eyeball for nearly five months. On his return to Srinagar, he met delegations from various political parties and other individuals at the Chashmashahi Guest House, also known as Nehru Guest House, overlooking Dal Lake. He was scheduled to hold separate meetings with the state government and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who accompanied him to Kupwara and the other places. Mr Vaypayee is scheduled to hold a meeting of the Unified Headquarters on Thursday. He will address a press conference here before flying back to New Delhi.


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