September 2002 News

Lone murder an attempt to ''intimidate'' elections : PM

12 September 2002
The Asian Age

New York: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has said the murder of Jammu and Kashmir law minister Mushtaq Ahmad Lone by terrorists on Wednesday is yet another example of the ''clear manifestation of attempts from cross-border forces to intimidate'' the electorate in Jammu and Kashmir. In a meeting with his Danish counterpart, Mr Anders Fogh Rasmussen, on Wednesday, Mr Vajpayee said that in spite of New Delhiís efforts to try and conduct free and fair elections in the state, ''every effort was being made to intimidate the voter, candidates and democracy in Jammu and Kashmir.'' In a meeting that lasted half an hour, Mr Rasmussen condemned Loneís killing, calling it an act of terrorism. He said terrorism cannot be condoned, wherever or whenever it might occur. Denmark holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member European Union. The two leaders also discussed issues of bilateral concern including the upcoming India-EU economic summit to be held in Copenhagen in October. Mr Vajpayee said the ''acid test'' on whether cross-border terrorism has ended would come during the elections in Jammu and Kashmir. India has informed the United States of its concerns regarding plans from across its western border to disrupt the elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal told reporters these concerns had been conveyed to US secretary of state Colin Powell during his meeting in Washington with external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha earlier this week. Calling Loneís assassination a serious development, Mr Sibal said it provided ''an indicator of the designs of the terrorists and their mentors.'' He said New Delhi was not satisfied with Pakistanís ''performance and its commitment (to stop cross border terrorism)'' and senior officials, including the Prime Minister, were making this point in their meetings with other leaders in New York. Mr Yashwant Sinha raised this issue at a luncheon meeting with the French foreign minister on Wednesday. ''It is our expectation that making this point persistently has had a tremendous effect on our interlocutors,'' Mr Sibal said. Asked about the adequacy of US pressure on Pakistan to curb cross-border terrorism, Mr Sibal said: ''We feel not enough is being done, but that doesnít mean nothing is being done.'' He added it was a ''diplomatic challenge'' for the US to deal with the contradiction of fighting a war against terrorism with a country that is itself indulging in terrorism. On Kashmir, the foreign secretary said the US was supporting the Indian agenda of holding ''free and fair elections.'' He said India had made a very significant diplomatic gain, and this was evident in the present position of the US and other European nations on the elections in Kashmir. They all accept the fact that elections in the state are useful indicators of the wishes of the people, Mr Sibal said. On Wednesday, Mr Vajpayee also held a 40-minute meeting with the Prime Minister of Afghanistan. He condemned the recent assassination attempt on Mr Hamid Karzai in Kandahar, and added he was relieved that the Afghan leader escaped unhurt. Mr Karzai said he was looking forward to his visit to India, which, he hoped, would happen ''as soon as possible.'' Later in the evening, Mr Vajpayee joined leaders of 91 nations to light an eternal flame at a September 11 memorial ceremony at Battery Park. The leaders came from countries whose nationals were killed in the attack on the World Trade Centre.


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