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Opposition, Govt together in war on terror: Advani

Opposition assured its full backing to the Centre on any "hard decisions" taken to help end the scourge in the wake of Mumbai attacks.

india Updated: Dec 11, 2008 15:24 IST

Declaring that it was together with the Government in the "war on terror", Opposition on Thursday assured its full backing to the Centre on any "hard decisions" taken to help end the scourge in the wake of Mumbai attacks.

"The Home Minister has talked of taking hard decisions. Whatever steps you take which would help win the war on terror, my party and the NDA will support them," Leader of the Opposition LK Advani said in the Lok Sabha.

Advani's remarks came while participating in the discussion on the issue soon after Government assured the House that a number of steps, including strengthening laws and setting up a National Investigation Agency would be taken to insulate the country from terror strikes like in Mumbai.

He said it must be understood that the "epicentre" of terrorism against India was in Pakistan and that the ISI was also a "non-state actor" as it was "not under the control of the elected government in Pakistan and is answerable only to the Pakistan Army".

Noting that what was being witnessed against India was nothing but a "terror war", Advani said that the whole nation is united including the government and the opposition when it comes to fighting this war.

The Leader of the Opposition expressed satisfaction that the House will be adopting a resolution today that would send the signal that the entire country was united in the fight against teror and there are no differences on the lines of any caste and creed.

Advani's speech, at some points, saw even several members from the treasury benches joining those of the opposition thumping their desks.

Turning to the BJP's defeat in the just-concluded Delhi and Rajasthan Assembly elections, he wanted the Congress and the Government not to be under the "false" impression that terrorism was not an issue with the people.

"We have lost rather than the Congress has won," he said about the electoral outcome in the two states.

Claiming that anger was seething among people, he said "We will be underestimating the wisdom of the people ....It is wrong to infer that in the minds of the people terrorism is not an issue"

The Leader of the Opposition suggested that his party does not believe that the issue of accountability was only limited to the Union Home Minister and Maharashtra Chief Minister.

Advani said his party had not pressed the issue of accountability as regards the Prime Minister in the wake of the terror strikes in view of the fact that the Lok Sabha polls are not far away.

He said it was good on the part of the new Home Minister to apologise to the people of Mumbai for the lapses.

Advani, a former Home Minister, opposed India approaching the UN Security Council on the issue of terrorism.

"We should not make this mistake again. We should not forget the experience of taking the Kashmir issue there," he said, emphasising that India needed to tackle the menace on its own strength.

Noting that the Lashkar-e-Toiba's ideology was to use force against India through terrorist activities, he said Muslims in India needed to be made aware of the designs of the terror outfit.

"Spiritual Islam has to be respected. Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. But political Islam of this kind has to be combated and countered," he said adding that the "main enemies" of LeT were India, the US and Israel.

Referring to the recent meeting he had with the US Secretary of state Condoleeza Rice, he said that even she feels that the Army Chief in Pakistan was the "supremo".

He said he told Rice that there has been no dispute over Kashmir and there has been a unanimous resolution of Parliament proclaiming that the entire Jammu and Kashmir was an integrated and inalienable part of India.

Advani sought to know whether India has taken up with Pakistan recently the issue of return of 20 fugitives including underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, whom some people feel could have a hand in the Mumbai attacks.

He said that his party's Core Group has decided soon after the Mumbai attacks that it would "stand by" the government in whatever effective steps it takes to counter the 'jehadi terrorism' from Pakistan.

Taking part in the discussion, Milind Deora, the Congress MP from Mumbai (South) which bore the brunt of the November 26 terror attacks, said there was a need to "de-politicise" debates on terrorism.

"Terrorists have no religion. They can be from any religion," he said adding that the issue of terrorism should be kept away from politics.

Deora made a veiled attack on BJP and Shiv Sena for targeting ATS chief Hemant Karkare over the Malegaon blast probe and later declaring him a martyr when he laid down his life fighting terrorists in Mumbai.

Saluting the heroes who defeated the designs of heavily-armed terrorists, he said their sacrifice should not be forgotten with the passage of time.

Deora said intelligence gathering and investigation skills of various agencies should be strengthened.

Participating in the debate, CPM's Mohammad Salim said the issue of co-ordination between various government agencies and departments has been discussed in the House on several occasions.

He said a knee-jerk reaction should be avoided. "After every incident, a new organisation should not be set up," he said noting that it becomes difficult to co-ordinate between the various agencies and they function as separate entities.

The CPM member said the National Security Adviser (NSA) had been concentrating less on internal security and more on foreign and political affairs.

"We should tell the world that its actions should not be limited on papers. The United Nations should be asked to force Pakistan to take action," he added.

He warned that people from any religion could be "brainwashed" into waging war against others and efforts should be made to check it.