September 16, 2002


 Search the Internet

Print this page Best Printed on HP Laserjets
The Election Interview/Lal Kishenchand Advani
JK Election:w

'Pakistan's sole objective is to disrupt the J&K polls'

As Jammu and Kashmir voted in the crucial first phase of the assembly election on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani kept a close watch on the minutest of details. On his way to inaugurate a photo-exhibition by a senior photojournalist at the Press Club of India in New Delhi, Advani spoke to Home Secretary Kamal Pandey from his cellular phone and sought the latest developments.

En route to the venue, in an exclusive interview with Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh, Advani clarified that the top leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party had stayed away from campaigning in Jammu & Kashmir because their presence would have diverted the attention of the security forces. Apart from maintaining law and order, security forces would then have the additional responsibility of ensuring the safety of visiting VIPs. Advani also denied that there was any move to replace governor Girish Chandra Saxena till the elections were over. Excerpts:

The elections in Jammu & Kashmir are crucial to the BJP. Yet top leaders of the party like Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and yourself did not canvass for the party. Why?

The answer to this question is very simple. If Atalji or I had gone to the state for canvassing, the entire police force and security forces would have been on VIP duty. I did not want this to happen because my going there would have diverted the attention from [maintaining] law and order to protecting VIPs. That is the reason why we felt that it would be in the interest of the nation that Atalji and I stayed away from the campaign.

Has the assassination of state law minister Mushtaq Ahmed Lone made any impact on the poll campaign?

Well, the whole idea behind the unfortunate assassination of Mushtaq Lone was to deter the people of the state from participating in the elections. But they have failed in their objective because the incident has not produced any impact on the election process in Jammu & Kashmir.

On Sunday [September 15] terrorists attacked state Tourism Minister Sakeena Itoo. She survived the attack, but her personal security officer was killed. This was yet another other attempt to disrupt the election by Pakistan, whose sole objective is to disrupt the polls in Jammu & Kashmir.

How are you going to counter the Pakistani bid to disrupt the polls?

The people of Jammu & Kashmir who are fed up of violence in the state and want to bring back normalcy in the otherwise trouble-torn state, should effectively counter this by coming out in large numbers and voting in the elections.

I am confident that the polls in Jammu & Kashmir would be free and fair as the people are participating in the election process with enthusiasm.

It is their attempt to end terrorism in the state. Despite stepped-up terrorist attacks in Jammu & Kashmir as part of Pakistan's attempt to disrupt the polls, people are taking part with great enthusiasm as they feel violence should stop and for this an impartial election is needed.

Is it true that Jammu & Kashmir is going to have a new governor?

I have never been asked this question! I have read speculation in the media that a change in the governorship of the state is imminent, but nobody has bothered to check with me. No, we are not going to change the governor of Jammu & Kashmir till the elections in the state are over.

Does it mean a new governor will take charge after the elections?

I did not even say that! All I said was that the governor of Jammu & Kashmir is not being replaced till the elections are over.

Why did you refuse to meet the leaders of the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference and Shabir Shah, chief of the Jammu & Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party?

I refused to meet them because they have not given up their anti-India and anti-poll stand. I had never said that I was going to meet them. If the media keeps writing about it, then I cannot be blamed for that.

Is there any rationale then for holding talks with the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference?

None whatsoever! They do what Pakistan tells them to do. How can we talk to them in these circumstances?

So you feel it is the people of Jammu & Kashmir who hold the key to stamping out terrorism in the state?

The people of Jammu & Kashmir think that by increasing participation in the poll process they could play a significant role in stamping out terrorism.

But what has the Union government done to check terrorism in the state?

The security forces have achieved great success in combating terrorism in the state. If we look at the graph of the number of terrorists killed in the last one-and-a-half years, we would find that the graph has gone up.

Have we managed to disrupt the Pakistani game plan?

Initially Pakistan had managed to lure unsuspecting Kashmiri youth to cross over to Pakistan and trained them in terrorist activities. But later on the Kashmir youth saw through their game plan and refused to fall into the Pakistani trap. Now only foreign mercenaries, including Afghans, Pakistanis, and others, are being sent for terrorist violence in Jammu & Kashmir. There is a marked difference between the situation in the early 1990s and now.

General Pervez Musharraf has charged the BJP with Hindu fundamentalism.

He is getting more and more desperate. The BJP has fielded more than 25 Muslim candidates for the election in Jammu & Kashmir. This itself should answer the charge by the military ruler.

Design: Dominic Xavier

Jammu and Kashmir Elections 2002: The complete coverage

Back to top

Tell us what you think of this report