Panipat, Oct. 18: Atal Bihari Vajpayee today rejected the demand for the right to self-determination in Jammu and Kashmir, adding instead that Islamabad would have to return Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to India.
The Prime Minister, who was addressing a gathering here after laying the foundation stone for Indian Oil Corporation’s Rs 10,000-crore refinery expansion project, wondered how someone who had captured power by force could talk of self-determination. “There has been talk of right to self-determination (in Jammu and Kashmir). Does Pakistan have democracy' Does it have an elected government' Those who rule at gunpoint are talking of (the) right to self-determination. It is not right,” Vajpayee said.
He said, unlike President Pervez Musharraf, he had been “elected” and “will remain so till the people wish”.
Upping the ante against the Musharraf regime, Vajpayee said India would insist on the return of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in any discussion on the future of the state since the territory was an integral part of India. “We do not want anybody’s land, but we will not part with even an inch of ours,” he said.
Vajpayee lashed out at Pakistan for raising the Kashmir issue at a recent Organisation of Islamic Conference summit. He said the people of the state had joined India of their free will.
The Prime Minister called Jammu and Kashmir the “jewel in the crown of India, which we have got through tremendous sacrifices and (are) defending it through more sacrifices”.
He said Pakistan had tried to capture Indian territory in Kargil in 1999, but had been pushed back by the army. It received such a bad beating that it refused to take back the bodies of its dead soldiers for burial, Vajpayee said.
“We had not made any intrusion, nor had we attacked,” he said, adding that India would not tolerate any aggression.
The Prime Minister said he had tried to talk peace with Pakistan three times. “I even went to Lahore to take the peace process further,” he said. But it was difficult to talk with Islamabad as it wanted to talk only about Kashmir, he added.
The Prime Minister said India’s proposal to boost bilateral trade “was not liked by Islamabad” even though this would have provided its people good quality goods at cheap prices. In such a scena- rio, “how can friendship take place'” he asked.
Vajpayee regretted that some countries had double standards on terrorism and that India was not getting adequate international support to fight terror.
In an oblique reference to the US, he said Pakistan was being patronised even though it was promoting terrorism while India’s fight against terror did not receive adequate support.