October 2002 News

Kashmiris are not for Pak.: PM

7 October 2002
The Hindu

LONDON: Commending the voter turnout in Jammu and Kashmir elections despite ''violence orchestrated'' from across the borders, the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, today said people had expressed the view that they were not for Pakistan. ''The voter turnout so far has been commendable in the face of the most vicious campaign of threats, intimidation and violence orchestrated from across our borders and aimed at voters and candidates alike.'' ''People have expressed their opinion. They are not for Pakistan,'' Mr. Vajpayee, who began a three- nation tour to Europe, said in a wide-ranging interview to the Financial Times published today. Expressing disappointment with ''Pakistan-backed'' attempts to sabotage elections in Jammu and Kashmir, where polling for the last phase will be held tomorrow, the Prime Minister said the current level of violence by militants suggested that Islamabad had not changed its behaviour and had ''done nothing'' to fulfil its pledges to stop cross-border terrorism. Mr. Vajpayee ruled out the immediate resumption of talks with Pakistan saying ''terrorism and dialogue cannot go together. Pakistan is not prepared to listen. The overwhelming sentiment in India is that no meaningful dialogue can be held until Pakistan abandons the use of terrorism.'' The Prime Minister regretted that India''s attempts to make peace with its belligerent neighbour had always been ''repaid with violence.'' ''I have made a conscious effort to resume and sustain a dialogue with Pakistan in the face of the most discouraging responses from that country and, I must confess, sometimes also in the face of domestic opposition.'' The ''series of high-profile attacks convinced us that our efforts at initiating a dialogue were being seen as our weakness,'' he said.


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