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Bus service does not mean govt acknowledging PoK belongs to Pak: Swami

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | October 24, 2003 01:45 IST

The government insists starting a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad does not mean that India has accepted Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as part of Pakistan. Muzaffarabad is the capital of PoK.

"I don't know where the media got this impression. PoK is part of Kashmir and Kashmir is part of the Indian Union. There is no ambiguity about this," Union Minister of State for Home I D Swami told rediff.com in Delhi.

The government proposed the bus service keeping in mind the long-standing demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has also been advocating reopening the road link between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad.

On the possibility of an increase in terrorism as Muzaffarabad is considered the hub of terrorist training camps in PoK, Swami said, "We have full faith in our intelligence agencies who must have given a security clearance before the decision to open this route was taken."

On talks with the Hurriyat Conference, he said a dialogue could start as soon as within two weeks depending on the reaction of the separatist conglomerate to the Centre's offer.

"We have not set an agenda. Anyone who gives up violence is welcome to join the talks. It has been a long-standing demand of the Hurriyat's new leadership, headed by Maulvi Abbas Ansari, that talks should be at the political level. In the greater interest of the country, Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee felt that one should be flexible on such matters and announced that (Deputy Prime Minister L K) Advani would hold talks with the Ansari faction.

"If the situation demands, then Advani could even go to Srinagar to hold talks," he added.

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