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Home > News > Report

Blasts might cloud PM's peace initiatives

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | August 26, 2003 21:50 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's initiative to find permanent peace in South Asia is under serious threat with his deputy pointing fingers at Islamabad for the twin blasts in Mumbai.

Coverage of the Blasts in Mumbai

Senior officials in the intelligence agencies and the Ministry of External Affairs admitted on Tuesday evening that the blasts might force the prime minister to harden his stance during his tour of Jammu and Kashmir beginning Wednesday. "The Mumbai blasts will definitely not be ignored in Srinagar," a senior official told

The blasts that claimed 52 lives couldn't have come at a worse time. Though it is not known what announcements Vajpayee will make in Srinagar, officials speculate that post-blasts, the prime minister will be "more cautious" as he begins his tour of the troubled state.

The officials added that Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani's attack on Pakistan during his visit to Mumbai on Tuesday only complicated the situation. Advani had said Pakistan was jealous of India's democracy and overall progress as a secular nation.

Till the blasts, the general expectation in New Delhi was that the prime minister would take his peace initiative to a new level during his visit to the Valley. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Saeed has for sometime now been saying that the stage is being prepared for larger political dialogue between the Centre and the separatists.

"But that may not happen now," the intelligence agency official said.

The government is yet to make any formal changes to its policy on peace and Pakistan. In fact, a team of Indian officials id presently in Islamabad holding discussions on overflight facilities for each other's civilian planes.

Vajpayee minister is expected to consult his senior cabinet members but officials say that in the end, it would largely be left to the prime minister to decide what to say in Kashmir.

The prime minister is slated to be in Srinagar on August 27 and 28 to chair the Inter-State Council meeting. On August 29, he is scheduled to visit Jammu.

This will be Vajpayee's second visit to Jammu and Kashmir in less than four months. During his last visit, Vajpayee had extended his handshake of friendship to Pakistan and thus started what he called his "third and final" effort to find peace in the subcontinent.

Though officials have been repeatedly cautioning that the peace initiatives would progress slowly, the Mumbai blasts might have upset his calculations. And with elections due in five states soon, it wouldn't be surprising if Vajpayee hardens his stance vis--vis Pakistan.

More reports from Maharashtra
Read about: Telgi case | Mumbai blasts

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