Pakistan sponsoring terror to stop Kashmiri voters
8 May 2004
The Daily Times
SIMLA: Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Saturday accused Pakistan of sponsoring 'terrorist' acts to stop voters in Held Kashmir from going to the polls in general elections that wind up next week.'Pakistan state-sponsored terrorism has been trying to prevent Kashmiris from casting ballots,' Mr Vajpayee told a rally in Mandi town in northern Himachal Pradesh state.But 'despite the fear of the bullet, the people have come out and voted (in Held Kashmir),' the Indian prime minister said.Mr Vajpayee said he was determined to pursue efforts to establish normal ties between the countries. 'My government has taken the initiative by extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan as peace was essential to remove poverty in the two countries,' he said 'Official level talks are going on between the two countries which will be followed by ministerial level talks. Ultimately, a summit could also take place,' said Vajpayee, who declared in April 2003 that he wanted to make one last bid for peace between the nuclear rivals in his lifetime. 'Peace is essential for removing poverty in both countries,' he said. India's mammoth election campaign draws to a close on Saturday, with exit and opinion polls showing a close race to the finish line. Monday's vote will be the toughest by far for the BJP. Pakistan on Saturday rejected Vajpayee's allegation that Islamabad was sponsoring terrorism to disrupt polling in Held Kashmir. 'This is absolutely wrong and against the facts,' Foreign Office spokesman Masood Ahmed Khan said. The spokesman said that Kashmiris boycotted Lok Sabha elections of their own free will. 'Kashmiris have always boycotted Indian polls and it will be unwise to point an accusing finger at Pakistan,' the spokesman said. 'Not only the international media but the Indian media reported that Kashmiris did not go to the polling stations.