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Qatar pact

Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh, Feb. 23 (PTI): India and Qatar are likely to sign an agreement on combating terrorism, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said today.

“Our talks with Qatar for some understanding and cooperation in fighting terrorism have evoked positive response and agreement in this regard is likely soon,” Advani said here.

Civil aviation minister Shahnawaz Hussain had recently visited Saudi Arabia and his talks there also evoked a “very good response”, the deputy Prime Minister said.

He said the handing over of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s brother, Iqbal Sheikh Kaskar, and Ejaz Pathan, an accused in the 1993 Bombay blasts case and six others by the UAE was a big breakthrough. This also reflected the success of India’s efforts to persuade Gulf nations to cooperate in combating terrorism, asserted Advani.

“India is determined to defeat the proxy war and we will definitely succeed in our endeavour.”

The deputy Prime Minister said security and development were two important issues closely linked with the BJP’s concept of cultural nationalism.

“Nationalism and patriotism are essential for security and development and these have to be strengthened by promoting cultural nationalism, which our opponents often describe as ‘Hindutva’. India is secular because of its culture and tradition, and if you describe it as Hindutva, one cannot help.”

The deputy Prime Minister said N.N. Vohra, the Centre’s new pointman on Jammu and Kashmir, will talk to chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, MLAs and representatives of other organisations. “He may also talk to those holding guns, if they choose to shun the path of violence.”

Earlier, addressing poll rallies at Bilaspur and Kersog, Advani accused the Congress of levelling “baseless” allegations against Himachal Pradesh chief minister P.K. Dhumal on the eve of polls. “The Congress is baffled by the unprecedented development in Himachal under the BJP rule and is resorting to mud-slinging,” Advani said.

“The state’s development during the over-four-decade rule of the Congress and the five-year tenure of the BJP is before everyone. Moreover, with a BJP-led government at the Centre, a government led by the party in the state will ensure speedy development of the hill state,” he said at another rally at Barotiwala.

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