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Support for Atal, soundbites for ranks

New Delhi, May 9: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today sought to set the record “straight” on the Prime Minister’s Pakistan peace initiative following feedback that the statements and counter-statements from both sides of the border had sent “conflicting” signals.

Taking a cue from Advani, the RSS reiterated its demand that India reclaim Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and ruled out a third-party intervention in the peace efforts.

Both stressed that there was no difference between their stand and that of the government, but their tone and tenor was sharper than Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statements so far.

Addressing a meeting of the BJP’s grievances’ cell today, Advani said no friendship was possible until Pakistan dismantled the “terrorist infrastructure” it has created in India. Advani repeatedly said there was no difference between his stand and that of the government.

“Our stand is the same — you have to stop cross-border terrorism. If you run training camps for terrorists, provide terrorists with weapons, give money to families of terrorists, or if you send instructions to terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir using the communication networks, if you do not dismantle this infrastructure, how is friendship possible'” the deputy Prime Minister asked.

BJP sources said: “For our cadre, what matters is plain and simple messages, they don’t understand the subtleties of diplomacy. Advani’s speech went down well.”

On the eve of US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage’s visit, RSS spokesman Ram Madhav said: “We have to keep in mind that they (foreign dignitaries) are indirectly trying to give an impression to the world that they are involved in the efforts to resolve (the) Indo-Pak dispute.”

The 1994 Parliament resolution, reaffirming India’s claim to PoK, should form the only basis of a prospective political dialogue, he added.

“The deputy Prime Minister clearly said unless and until all this (cross-border terrorism) stops, no talks can start. When I heard him say this on TV, I decided to go ahead and speak out too,” the RSS leader said.

“These initiatives had given birth to a lot of speculations also. There was speculation about no-war pact, freezing of nuclear capabilities and so on. A message was also going down that international forces were mediating between India and Pakistan,” Madhav said.

Expressing alarm over foreign dignitaries “making a beeline” for New Delhi and Islamabad, he said: “True to its tradition, India will always play a good host to these dignitaries.... It has to be borne in mind that the contribution of the very same external forces is not small in perpetuating the Indo-Pak dispute in the last five decades. We need to make it emphatically clear that Indo-Pak issues are purely bilateral and there is no scope for third-party intervention at all. We should also make it clear that we go by the spirit of the Shimla Agreement.”

Madhav’s second rider was that “no political relationship can be established with Pakistan unless PoK is reclaimed by India”.

“There is no problem in re-establishing cultural and sporting ties,” Madhav said. However, he was quick to add: “Even if you are trying for all this, unless the major problem is resolved, it is impractical. Unless a proper political dialogue starts, other kinds of negotiations may not yield any big dividend.”

Reiterating the RSS’ stand that India must regain its territorial sovereignty over the entire Kashmir region, Madhav said: “Over the last several centuries, our borders have shrunk up to Gilghit. The very idea of accepting the LoC as the international border means further shrinking of our borders up to Kargil. India needs to give up signs of war-weariness and reaffirm its position.”

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