The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Party spoils PM peace pitch

New Delhi, May 15: The BJP queered the pitch for Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Pakistan peace initiative with the declaration, “Ek haath mein atankwaad ka bandook, ek haath mein phool, yeh nahi chalega (one hand wields a rifle, the other hand offers a flower, such a situation is untenable)”.

Even as general secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi reiterated for the umpteenth time that the BJP welcomed and supported the Prime Minister’s move, a series of allegations and statements made in the course of his press briefing today indicated that the party was in no mood to go along with Vajpayee.

The latest ruse for thwarting the Prime Minister’s efforts was the visit of Pakistani parliamentarians and statements they purportedly made on Kashmir and terrorism.

“This delegation made certain suggestions on Kashmir and terrorism which (the) people of India will not accept. They compared Kashmir with Chechnya, which is not only improper, absolutely misplaced and in bad taste, but an insult to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who are part and parcel of (the) Indian democracy since inception. (The) Pakistani MPs’ contention that terrorism is not going to end immediately in both Kashmir and Chechnya is also a rubbish argument and had served to spoil the atmosphere of goodwill with which the delegation had arrived in India,” Naqvi said.

He argued that the large turnout in the Jammu and Kashmir polls was proof that the people were committed to a “democratic polity” and the “Indian model of governance and development”.

They had given a rebuff to the terrorists and separatists and, therefore, Kashmir could not be compared to Chechnya.

When it was pointed out that the parliamentarians were on a private visit and, therefore, their alleged statements could not be taken as seriously as those emanating from the Pakistani establishment, Naqvi said: “They reflect the mindset of the establishment even though they have not come on their behalf.”

Even Pakistan’s ban on Masood Azhar’s entry into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) was treated sceptically by Naqvi. “The idea of effecting a ban or two is merely to demonstrate to the international community that Pakistan is serious about fighting terrorism. But on the ground, organisations like the al Qaida and the Jaish-e-Mohammad continue to operate from Pakistani soil.”

“(The) BJP strongly feels that talks can only take place in a more conducive environment. And for that, cross-border terrorism should end on the ground and terrorist-training camps should be dismantled. Otherwise, there’s no point in holding talks because there will be no positive outcome,” Naqvi said, drawing the bottomline.

However, deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani, from whom the BJP generally takes its cue while articulating its views on major policy matters, welcomed the ban on Azhar. He told reporters travelling with him to Mangalore: “If this ban on Azhar’s entry into PoK is an index of the beginning of a change, it is welcome.”

As expected, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) went steps ahead of the BJP and called Vajpayee’s move a “great blunder”. In Varanasi, VHP president Ashok Singhal was quoted as saying: “The peace process started recently will be a great blunder. No effort should be made to initiate a peace process between the two countries unless PoK is returned to India.”

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