Pak No Longer Able To Sway Kashmiris Claims Azad
9 September 2004
The Times of India
Jammu: Union Parliamentary Affairs minister and former Pradesh Congress Committee president Ghulam Nabi Azad today averred that none can now exploit the people of Kashmir in the name of independence and make them go astray by unfurling Pakistani flags. He claimed that it was conveyed to Pakistan in recently held bi-lateral talks and described it as yet another 'turning point' achieved by Congress led UPA government on the issue in its rule of just three months at the Centre. 'In the talks, we stressed that the people in Kashmir want peace development, basic amenities and employment. So it would be no use harping on those issues which have lost their relevance in the present context. We made it clear that Pakistan should realize that we're desirous of peace, normalcy and stability in the region and so did masses in Kashmir. So it (Pakistan) should stop sponsoring terrorism,' Union Parliamentary Minister maintained. Seemingly with hardly anything substantial to say, Azad found favourite whipping boy in, even otherwise Congress' bete noire, Bharatiya Janata Party during his maiden 'much hyped' public rally here today after the parliamentary polls in May. Earlier he, flanked by deputy chief minister Mangat Ram Sharma, newly appointed PCC president Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, Social Welfare minister Mula Ran and others, arrived almost two hours behind the schedule at rally venue i.e., Zanana Park. Besides BJP bashing, which consumed better part of his 25 minutes speech, he spoke about Congress' 'historic win', policies and its achievements in usual rhetorical manner. He claimed that Congress led United Progressive Alliance at the Centre and coalition government in J&K were making efforts to bring peace in the state. 'Even when we're in opposition, we always favoured resolution of all issues through dialogue. But BJP led NDA government created worst standoff at borders. We always believed that the confrontational policies won't help to ease the situation but would only spread hatred and widen the distances,' Azad asserted. He maintained that Congress always wanted to initiate talks with Pakistan. 'Even in three months, pursuing our avowed policies, we conducted foreign secretary level talks three times. Earlier our Foreign Minister Natwar Singh visited Pakistan and his Pakistani counterpart Kasoori was in India. Even I, myself, participated in the deliberations,' he stated. Commencing with an apologetic note for late arrival, he boasted that the rousing reception accorded to them and the enthusiasm shown by people and different wings of Congress from Airport to rally venue proved those detractors wrong who were predicting about the weakening of Congress after parliamentary polls in Jammu region. He commented even during parliamentary elections, the party had not weakened in Jammu region. In fact it was just the reflection of complacency among the party workers and leaders as an outcome of historic win in the assembly polls, Azad observed and added that this 'blow' in the form of fall in the percentage of votes was a blessing in disguise as it removed complacency. Exhorting Congress activists and leaders to work dedicatedly to strengthen the party at grass root level, he stated that the win in parliamentary polls from was a great challenge for the party. 'NDA, with which we particularly mean BJP, had created such an impression by spending Crores on advertisements in print and electronic media, hoardings as if it would register a landslide win on its own and would form government without its allies. This was a tough challenge which was accepted by Congress in the leadership of its president Sonia Gandhi. With the massive support of people, we defeated BJP and its allies all over the country,' he boasted particularly referring to Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. This was the defeat of communal forces and the win of secularism because people had already seen the trailer in Gujarat as what havoc they (communal forces led by BJP) could create after coming to power at the Centre, he jibed. 'BJP Ne Apni Vichaardhaara Ka Trailer Gujarat Mein Chalaaya To Zaahir Hai BJP Ki Poori Film Kaisi Hoti (It showed the trailer of its ideology in Gujarat so how would it run the whole show if allowed to govern the nation, was anybody's guess). To keep the country intact it was imperative to defeat communal forces,' he continued his tirade against the saffron brigade. He mocked that the 'Two Nation theory' was not only propounded by Jinnah, but even BJP religiously believed in that. 'It talks of Akhand Bharat but its policies are contradictory to the concept. Iski Neetiyan Bharat Ko Khand Khand Kar Rahi Hain..(Its policies are dividing the nation.). It is Congress which is realizing the concept of Akhand Bharat in its true essence by professing the policy of secularism. Gandhi, Indira, Rajiv laid down their lives for this. By voting in favour of Congress, people saved the country from disintegration. Because the saffron brigade was misusing the administrative machinery, educational and all other institutions to destroy the secular foundation of our country,' he made a parting shot again aimed at Congress' bete noire.