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We should unite and challenge Pakistan: Opposition

March 14, 2013 16:01 IST

The opposition on Thursday accused the government of failing to check terror strikes in the country, including on Wednesday attack in Srinagar in which five Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.

"The external affairs minister treats Pakistani prime minister to a sumptuous lunch when he comes to Ajmer Sharif and just four days later, this terror attack happens. ... We should unite and challenge Pakistan," leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha during the Zero Hour.

"I salute the Diwan of Ajmer Sharif (who refused to welcome the visiting Pakistani Premier last week). He did what the government could not do," Swaraj said, seeking a response from the government on the Srinagar terror strike.

She lamented that ‘the front row of the treasury bench was empty when the house was condoling the death of the CRPF personnel earlier on Thursday. Neither the Leader of the House (Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde), nor senior ministers or the United Progressive Alliance chairperson (Sonia Gandhi) were present when the speaker was making the obituary reference. It is a sad situation."Swaraj said it was ‘very shameful’ that every other day Pakistan was attacking Indian soldiers, including beheading one of them recently, and ‘there is no reaction’.

"We got some assurance when the visa on arrival (to Pakistanis) was stopped and the Prime Minister made a statement that business as usual will not do", but the attacks happened again, she said.

Heated exchanges took place between members of National Conference and the Bharatiya Janata Party, when Swaraj said, "These attacks are occurring when there is a demand for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act."

As soon as Swaraj spoke of AFSPA, NC members Sharifuddin Shariq and Mirza Mehboob Beg were on their feet shouting that the law, which gave stringent powers to the armed forces, should be withdrawn, prompting BJP members to rise and shout back.

Beg and Shariq shouted back saying ‘hundreds of our youth have been killed, our party workers have been killed and maimed and nobody sheds tears for them’.

An agitated Shariq also came into the aisle a couple of times. They were supported by Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party's Shailendra Kumar, who wanted the chair to allow them to speak.

Prasad added, "The BJP's agenda is being discussed and we are not being heard. You should allow them (NC members) to have their say."

Following the heated exchanges, Swaraj told the NC members ‘today is not the day for us to challenge each other but to challenge Pakistan unitedly’ and asked home minister Sushilkumar Shinde to make a statement.

After the home minister's statement, members of the Samajwadi Party, RJD and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen walked out saying they were not allowed to speak on such an important issue.

As they left the House, the speaker asked them to give a notice for holding a debate on the matter.

PTI
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