The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal tells Pak to act

Lucknow, May 21: Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee today welcomed Pakistan’s curb on the activities of the Hizb-ul Mujahideen but made it clear that it should be followed by “decisive action” to stop cross-border terrorism.

“We have always extended our hand of friendship but it is Pakistan which has been found lacking. It’s time Pakistan’s rulers realised that words and gestures are followed by concrete and tangible measures,” he told reporters at Amausi airport before leaving for Delhi at the end of his two-day visit to the Uttar Pradesh capital.

Vajpayee refused to be dragged into controversial local issues, meeting queries on the Bahujan Samaj Party’s refusal to join the NDA at the Centre or the alleged involvement of a state minister in the murder of Hindi poetess Madhumita Shukla with a firm “No comment.”

The minister, Amarmani Tripathi, was recently dropped by chief minister Mayavati from her Cabinet.

Reiterating India’s position that the Kashmir issue could be resolved only through bilateral talks, Vajpayee said Pakistan’s failure to raise the issue in the UN Security Council proved that the world shared India’s point of view. “The world knows the reality. So when Pakistan raised the Kashmir issue in the Security Council, no country supported its move,” he said. “I am sure Pakistan will learn a lesson….

“It has made clear what the world thinks about the Kashmir problem,” Vajpayee added.

Blaming Pakistan for launching a misinformation campaign on Kashmir, the Prime Minister said the people of the state wanted to remain with India.

Asked why he was keen on pursuing peace with Pakistan when it has repeatedly betrayed India, Vajpayee said: “We want to live in peace.

“Our efforts are that the path of war should close and problems be settled through dialogue. The international situation has changed,” he added.

“Today, there is renewed realisation among countries on the gravity of wars. I am hopeful that our neighbour will also ponder over this situation and take appropriate steps.”

About the 20 terrorists and criminals that India wants Pakistan to hand over, Vajpayee said he was sure Islamabad would change its stand. “Though there has been no change in their attitude in this regard, I am sure it will change,” he said.

Vajpayee refused to talk about his party’s plans regarding the BSP but maintained that the coalition in Uttar Pradesh would continue.

Asked if he had discussed the possibility of the BSP joining the NDA government during his talks with BSP leaders Mayavati and Kanshi Ram last night, Vajpayee said: “You will come to know about it at the right time.”

On the home front, Vajpayee ruled out the possibility of increasing the MPs’ constituency development fund to Rs 3 crore from the current Rs 2 crore in view of the country’s tight financial position.

He said that though most state governments were facing a cash crunch, it was possible to give an impetus to development with the help of the people. “The government also needs the support of the people and the earlier we politicians realise it the better,” he added.

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