The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani peace punch at Pak

Hyderabad, Nov. 2: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today described Pakistan’s response to Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s fresh peace initiative as “disappointing and surprising” and urged it to respond properly to the Prime Minister’s appeal.

He reiterated the demand for handing over 20 criminals, including Dawood Ibrahim, wanted for acts of terrorism in India to pave the way for better and fruitful talks.

Speaking to reporters today after reviewing the 55th passing-out parade of IPS probationers at the National Police Academy, Advani said that with continuing attempts at infiltration across the Line of Control, “it appears Pakistan has no intentions of making peace”.

Referring to Vajpayee’s offer of friendship in Srinagar last April and the announcement of 12 confidence-building measures by external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha, Advani said Pakistan’s “response was lukewarm and we are concerned that it lacked an evidence of sincerity in wanting to stop cross-border terrorism. I am sorry to say that this (sincerity) has not been forthcoming”.

Advani said there were 28 attempts at infiltration across the LoC in September alone, but the security forces thwarted all of them, killing more than 200 militants — an all-time high for a month.

“In 2003, up to October, 1,100 to 1,200 terrorists were killed by the security forces,” the deputy Prime Minister said.

Referring to the US move to declare Dawood a global terrorist carrying on terrorist activities not only in India but also in conjunction with al Qaida, Advani said: “It is high time Pakistan handed over to India the 20 criminals named by the Interpol and the Government of India as having been guilty of terrorist acts in India and let law take its own course.”

The deputy Prime Minister spoke about Vajpayee’s offer to hold talks on all contentious issues, including Jammu and Kashmir. But he recalled that the Prime Minister had also said that such talks would be fruitful only when the continuing violence ended.

“Six months have passed since that offer but nothing came out of that,” he said.

India has undertaken several confidence-building measures to strengthen “people-to-people” contact between the two countries, Advani said.

They included the decision of the cabinet committee on security to restore diplomatic relations at the level of high commissioner, which led to the exchange of high commissioners between the two countries, he added.

Advani said while India would continue to move towards its goal of complete victory over terrorism, it would also try to bring peace.

He said Pakistan was “unable to digest” India’s progress on all fronts.

Without naming Pakistan, the deputy Prime Minister said: “The neighbouring country is baffled as to how India has been able to nurture democracy and secular values and maintain peace despite religious diversity.

“We have more Muslims than Pakistan’s population.”

Advani said sustained focus on development during the last five-and-half years had created a new sense of confidence that India could become a superpower. “There is a worldwide recognition of this fact,” he said.

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