Advani criticises PM for calling Gilani a man of peace

Churu (Rajasthan): BJP leader L K Advani on Saturday flayed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for terming his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani a "man of peace" and holding talks with the neighbouring country, saying it had "done nothing to curb terrorism".

"The Manmohan Singh government keeps saying, as it has on many occasions said, that whether terrorism stops or not, the government would continue to talk with Pakistan…We (NDA government) had said that we do not agree to this and talks would not happen till the time Pakistan promises to stop terror," Advani said addressing a rally here.

"Four years after the Agra summit, the Pakistani government did promise to stop terror but incidents have kept happening one after the other. But two days ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave yet another certificate to Pakistan by saying that the Pakistani Prime Minister is a man of peace," he said.

Advani also claimed that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government had adopted a more firm approach while dealing with Pakistani leadership. "We recognised Pakistan`s attitude and we thought that there should be friendship with Pakistan. We were clear that we would convey to them that the Vajpayee government wanted friendship with Pakistan but would never under any circumstance compromise on terrorism," he said.

He added, when the NDA government was newly formed, Vajpayee had discussed the policy towards Pakistan with him. "Vajpayee decided that he himself would take a bus and talk to the people in Pakistan. He did go there and a lot of praise and appreciation followed. But soon after General Musharraf started the Kargil war. Musharraf was beaten in the war but soon after he removed the Prime Minister of Pakistan in a coup," he said.

Advani said that only after a lot of thinking, Vajpayee had agreed to invite then President Pervez Musharraf. The BJP leader also narrated instances to demonstrate the approach his government had adopted towards Pakistan. "We invited him, he came and met us in Agra…I asked him that Dawood, who is staying in your country, has killed a lot of people here. And the court here has held him responsible for Mumbai blasts…You should hand him over to us," Advani said talking about Musharraf`s visit.

"Musharraf replied that Dawood was not in Pakistan. Later a Pakistani official commented to me that I had forced Musharraf to tell a white lie before half a dozen Pakistani and an equal number of Indian officials. Everyone knew that he (Musharraf) was lying as Dawood lived in Pakistan and we even had his address," he said.

"Musharraf said that whatever is happening is not terrorism but the war for Kashmir`s `Azadi`. I countered him asking if the killing of women and children waiting at bus stops in bomb blasts was war for `Azadi`. If you call this a war for `Azadi` then there can be no understanding between you and us," Advani told his supporters. "That was the first Indo-Pak talks in which no written statement of any kind was released," he added.

The BJP veteran also said, though the slogan `Jai Jawan Jai Kisan` was coined by former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri of the Congress, it was the Vajpayee government that understood it the best. By providing credit cards to farmers and planning schemes like the inter-linking of rivers the Vajpayee government had attempted to serve the farmers and had adopted a firm approach on terrorism and security out of respect for the brave soldiers, he said.

Churu was Advani`s last major rally in Rajasthan, from where his Jan Chetna Yatra is scheduled to reach Hisar in Haryana by Saturday evening. After Churu in Rajasthan, Advani`s Jan Chetna Yatra reached Hisar in Haryana.

Advani was given a warm welcome by BJP leaders and party`s in-charge of Haryana, Harshvardhan, and president of the Haryana Janhit Congress Kuldeep Bishnoi. The Haryana Janhit Congress is an ally of the BJP in the Congress-ruled state.

Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), the All India Sikh Students Federation and some radical outfits have threatened to disrupt the yatra in Punjab. They alleged the yatra would spread communal disharmony.