The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vajpayee trashes Pervez doubts

Male, Sept. 24: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today raised the pitch of the Kashmir rhetoric by rubbishing Pakistan’s scepticism of the polls in the state and, at the same time, frowning on its own track record of elections.

After the day’s polling, he was convinced that “the ballot is winning a resounding victory over the bullet”.

The vote, the Prime Minster said, was not “for this party or that party, not for this or that candidates, but for democracy and national unity”. Vajpayee congratulated Kashmiris who braved threats to their lives to vote.

Apparently enthused by the positive international reaction to the first phase of the polls, as well as by peaceful polling in the second phase today, Vajpayee said Pakistan would not be able to convince anyone with its propaganda against the polls.

The problem, he said, was since Pakistan itself has so few “independent” elections, it could not accept that such elections were possible in Jammu and Kashmir. “Their description of the polling so far as a sham shows nothing but their growing frustration.”

The Prime Minister’s initial reactions on the polls were expanded after he received a clearer picture of the polls in the evening. In a statement here, he alleged that Pakistan had done everything to try and foil the elections.

As many as 400 incidents of terrorist violence have taken place in the state since the elections were announced. These left 60 security personnel and 37 political activists dead and over 100 injured.

The big question, however, remains whether the successful completion of the polls — from India’s point of view — could reopen the doors for negotiations with Pakistan and reduce tension on the border.

Diplomats here indicated that India would not like to play its cards till the last phase of the Kashmir polls is over.

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