The Bharatiya Janata Party National Executive welcomes the National Democratic Alliance Government's peace initiative in Jammu & Kashmir. On November 19, 2000, the Prime Minister had announced the suspension of operations by security forces during the month of Ramazan. While announcing this, he had said that the Government would continue with its efforts to normalise the situation in the State and had urged terrorist and separatist forces to return to the path of peace. He had also expressed the hope that Pakistani shelling and infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan along the LoC would cease.
The National Executive views developments over the subsequent weeks as encouraging. The people of Jammu & Kashmir have responded to the peace initiative wholeheartedly. Various organisations, including the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, have endorsed the Government's move and offered dialogue. There is an air of optimism in Kashmir Valley which has suffered grievously for more than a decade due to the blood-letting by terrorists armed, aided and trained by Pakistan.
Pakistan has responded by officially announcing that its forces will maintain "maximum restraint" along the LoC. In recent weeks there has been a decline in attempts at cross-border and cross-LoC infiltration by terrorists from Pakistan. Relative peace prevails along the LoC with a marked fall in Pakistani shelling.
Against this backdrop, the Government has further extended the period of no initiation of operations by another month, till January 26. The Government has also announced that it will initiate exploratory steps for resumption of dialogue with Pakistan, when peace is fully restored.
The BJP National Executive, while congratulating the Government for its bold initiative, would like to draw attention to certain realities that cannot be wished away. It is true that there has been a decline in overall violence in Jammu & Kashmir, largely because the people are tired of being captives in the vicious cycle of violence that terrorism generates. At the same time, criminal Pakistan-based organisations like Lashkar-e-Tayaaba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harkat-ul Mujahideen have stepped up their activities, as is evident from attacks on Army camps in Jammu & Kashmir, the daring attack on Red Fort and the open threats issued by Lashkar to continue its murderous activities including an attack on PMO. Government cannot afford to let down its guard against such organisations that continue enjoy the patronage of the present regime in Islamabad.
It merits reiteration that the previous "ceasefire", offered by Hizb-ul Mujahideen, to which Government had responded favourably, collapsed due to the intransigence of the ruling military establishment in Pakistan. While some soft statements have emanated from Islamabad in recent days, there is little evidence to suggest that there is any effort on part of the Pakistani military regime to contain terrorist outfits whose links with the Inter-Services Intelligence are no secret.
The BJP believes in good relations between and peaceful co-existence of India and her neighbours, including Pakistan. But such relations cannot be forged through unilateral efforts by India alone. Pakistan, which under its present military regime stands virtually isolated in the world today for adopting cross-border terrorism, disguised as jehad, as an instrument of state policy and dismantling democracy, must realise the folly of its misadventure.
Such realisation should get reflected in complete cessation of cross-border terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and other States of India and a halt in its hostile anti-India propaganda. It is also necessary for Pakistan to rein in the ISI, which is behind much of the disruptive and terrorist activities on Indian soil, as well as crack down on terrorist outfits that are openly operating in various Pakistani towns and cities.
Till such time this happens, Pakistan will continue to be seen as talking with a forked tongue. And, any dialogue is bound to fail. In any event, for talks to succeed, Pakistan must accept the sanctity of the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration that stipulate bilateral dialogue to sort out all outstanding issues.
The National Executive endorses the Government's view that talks can be held with all parties and organisations in Jammu & Kashmir. But these talks must be delinked from any dialogue with Pakistan. The question of "tri-lateral talks" does not arise.
It would be tragic if the plight of the displaced 2.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits were not taken into account while seeking peace in Jammu & Kashmir. The BJP remains committed to the return of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits to their ancestral land, from which terrorists and their mentors forced them out, with fill honour, dignity and security.
Lasting peace in Jammu & Kashmir is a desirable objective. To achieve this objective, the party will stand by the Government. But at every step, the Government must exercise extreme caution and make it abundantly clear to all that the Indian people's desire for peace should not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness. The Lahore initiative was misconstrued and India gave a fitting reply. Let that remain the benchmark today and tomorrow.
The National Executive resolves to strengthen the Government's hands in its search for peace even while standing by the Government in fighting all anti-national, terrorist and separatist forces that are bent upon scuttling the latest initiative. We reiterate our firm belief that India's territorial unity and integrity are non-negotiable: No peace can be lasting unless this is taken into account.