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Stop the dance of death in Kashmir: PM
Onkar Singh in Srinagar |
April 18, 2003 14:03 IST
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday said the dance of death must stop in Kashmir and those weilding the gun must realise that the world opinion is against them.
Vajpayee was addressing a rally in Srinagar on the first day of his two-day visit to the Valley. It was the first public meeting by any prime minister in Srinagar in 15 years.
"The world is changing and public opinion against the use of gun for settling issues in building. I had gone to Lahore as prime minister of India to start a peace process, but it did not succeed. Pakistan invaded Kargil and we had to dislodge them from there. We invited General [Pervez] Musharraf to come to Agra for talks. I felt that the Taj, that enduring symbol of love, would help us sort out our problems, but this did not happen. We are still willing to extend the hand of friendship, but it must be reciprocated in good measure by Pakistan," the prime minister said.
He assured Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's government that Delhi would back Jammu and Kashmir's development agenda.
Vajpayee said his government would do everything possible to generate employment in Kashmir. "We have started construction of roads from north to south [of the country] and this would help in generating employment. We have lowered the prices of cement and other construction material," he said.
The prime minister said information technology has provided a window of opportunity to the country's youth. "Developed countries are looking at the rich human resource of our country. More and more people from India are getting jobs abroad," he said.
Hoping that in the years to come Kashmir would regain its glory, Vajpayee said: "What is important is that Kashmiriyat should remain intact. I have laid the foundation stone for the expansion of the Srinagar airport. Soon, international flights would be able to take off and land there."
Recalling the promise he made on August 15, 2002 from the ramparts of Red Fort, he said: "I had promised free and fair elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Some friends came and told me 'Vajpayeeji yeh kya keh diya. Kashmir can never have free and fair elections.' We held the elections and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is now the chief minister of a new government," he said.
Earlier in the day, Vajpayee laid the foundation stone for Srinagar airport's expansion. Reporters were barred from this function.