December 2002 News

Islamabad''s Kashmir policy will prove counter-productive: PM

31 December 2002
The Daily Excelsior

Panaji: The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, has said that Pakistan should realise the ''futile and counter-productive'' nature of its Kashmir policy. Mr Vajpayee, now on a holiday in Goa, has, in fact, asked Pakistan to abandon its insistence on the ''centrality'' of the Kashmir issue. Pakistan should stop cross-border terrorism, Mr Vajpayee said in his ‘Musings from Goa’on New Year eve. He highlighted the need for better trade ties between India and Pakistan and said that the two countries should join hands to promote mutually beneficial trade and economic ties. The Prime Minister said that he was convinced that ''someday—hopefully soon—the people and rulers of Paksitan will realise the futile and counter-productive nature of its Kashmir policy''. Mr Vajpayee said: ''Once our two peoples experience the fruits of a tension-free and cooperative environment, we will be able to see the Kashmir issue in its proper dimension and arrive at an amicable and lasting solution''. Mr Vajpayee emphasized that Pakistan could not fight religious extremism and modernize itself as long as it chose to be in a position of permanent confrontation with India. Pakistan, the Prime Minister also emphasized, must stop cross- border terrorism and abandon its insistence on the ''centrality'' of the Kashmir issue. ''Let our two countries agree to promote mutually beneficial trade and economic ties, strengthen cultural relations and encourage greater people-to-people contacts'', he said. The Prime Minister regretted that the rulers in Islamabad, for the past several years ''have, almost as a last resort, surrendered to the temptation of targeting India with terrorism, inspired by religious extremism''. Mr Vajpayee, who arrived here on Sunday on a four-day sojourn, said that innocent children, women and men were being routinely killed, temples stormed and the country’s symbols of democracy attacked and security forces challenged. ''All in the name of holy religious war and freedom struggle'', he said and added: ''This campaign of jehadi terroriswm, too, is doomed to fail''. Mr Vajpayee stated that by rejecting Islamabad’s call for boycott of polls and participating enthusiastically in the free and fair elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in October, the people of the State had ''yet again expressed their will and preference''. He said that Pakistan, even after five-and-a-half decades of ''failed pursuit'', seemed to be unready to face the truth that Jammu and Kashmir ''is an integral part of India and will always remain so''. The Prime Minister observed that the country had remained committed to the task of strengthening ''our common Indianness'' in spite of every provocation, big or small, coming from its western neighbour. ''I often find it odd that whereas India reconciled itself long ago to the creation of Pakistan, the latter continues to find it difficult to accept the unchangeable reality of a united and secular India'', Mr Vajpayee said.


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