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December 14, 2001
1810 IST

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Jaswant opposes Advani's 'hot pursuit'

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi

External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh on Thursday opposed Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani's renewed demand that India should resort to the 'hot pursuit' of terrorists in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and destroy their training camps, according to a senior official of the Prime Minister's Office.

Singh's opposition to Advani's proposal came during the crucial Cabinet Committee on Security meeting that was held to discuss the suicide attack on the Parliament.

The official pointed out that Singh countered the home minister's proposal by arguing that India was a partner of the US-led coalition against terrorism, and that Washington had to be taken into confidence before such a step was undertaken by New Delhi.

The PMO official contended that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who usually pursues the line taken by Singh, was uncharacteristically silent on the issue, although the external affairs minister is generally perceived to adopt views endorsed by the prime minister.

Significantly, Defence Minister George Fernandes, who was present in the meeting, said, "We will decide when to take the media into confidence on policy matters. We certainly don't want to create any confusion when matters are still in the decisive stage."

Fernandes' reluctance to comment on the proceedings in the CCS reflects the government's sensitivity to share information about its ongoing plans to tackle terrorism.

Soon after reassuming charge of the defence ministry, Fernandes had told reporters that the issue of chasing the terrorists into PoK could not be discounted although 'the decision will be taken at the appropriate time'.

Bharatiya Janata Party colleagues of Advani, however, are aggressively advocating that Thursday's terrorist attack of Indian Parliament is a serious matter and that the government would be sending the wrong signals if it did not act decisively to counter growing terrorism in the country.

"If the terrorist attack in Parliament yesterday is sending the message that India is a soft state, we certainly want the government to take to hot pursuit so that their camps in PoK can be destroyed. That will teach them a lesson and also underscore that the government's might cannot be challenged in so defiant a fashion," asserted BJP parliamentary spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra.

Complete Coverage: The Attack on Parliament

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