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India, Pak moving towards permanent peace: PM

The current atmosphere of bonhomie between India and Pakistan is going to last, Vajpayee said.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2004 23:10 IST

The current atmosphere of bonhomie between India and Pakistan is going to last and would lead to "permanent peace", Prime Minister AB Vajpayee said in Amritsar on Friday.

"I hope we don't miss this opportunity and this will be permanent peace. This friendship is going to last as it is in the interest of both the countries," Vajpayee told a rally organised to mark the conclusion of first phase of Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani's "Bharat Uday Yatra".

"This time we are believing in their humanitarianism and our strength. There is no other option but to solve all problems through talks. If you (Pakistan) make claims on Kashmir, even then we have no other way but to hold talks. In Srinagar, I said I am extending my hand for the third and last time. I did this earlier in Lahore and then in Agra.

"We must solve our differences through talks. If not once then twice and thrice."

Referring to the 1971 war, he said, "I told them (Pakistan) what did you get from the war. You did not get land, but in fact lost Bangladesh."

On the ongoing Indo-Pak cricket series, Vajpayee said, "Could anyone have imagined that that relations would be so good that we would play cricket... Where bullets were traded, people are now playing cricket."

He said, "changes are taking place in the neighbourhood and the changes are not one-sided. You need two teams, two mindsets and two countries to play a game."

Recalling his earlier failed efforts to make friends with Pakistan, Vajpayee said, "When I was in Lahore signing agreements, accords and making promises for the future, we were cheated, we were attacked in Kargil. That was not friendship.

"They had thought that they would be able to take Kargil and there would be a world panchayat coming to the region, asking us to let the other side keep the land they had occupied. But we did not budge."

He said, "I remember when their Prime Minister had gone to Washington for talks, on his own or was invited, no one knows. Even I was invited, but I refused. We got back every inch of our land."

History will not be allowed to repeat itself, he said, adding neighbours should have good relations.

Turning to domestic matters, Vajpayee accused Congress of pulling down governments at the Centre. "They brought down the Morarji Desai government and installed Charan Singh. They pulled down even that government. They later made Chandrashekhar the Prime Minister, but did not let even that government survive. Even the I K Gujral and Deve Gowda governments were pulled down."

Vajpayee said the NDA had the will to serve the nation and a vision to make India great. In an apparent dig at Congress Party's last minute alliance building efforts, he said "We don't play power politics. These days all parties are running to make alliances. Some are running even barefoot. But their dream has been shattered while on the other had, our alliance is in place."

First Published: Mar 26, 2004 18:18 IST