Pakistan preventing voting in J&K: PM

PTI | ByBaldev S Chauhan (IANS), Shimla
May 08, 2004 07:03 PM IST

"Pak-sponsored terrorism tried to prevent Kashmiris from casting their ballot in the valley," Vajpayee said at a poll rally in Himachal.

For the first time in many months, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Saturday accused Pakistan of meddling in India's domestic affairs by placing roadblocks to the poll process in Jammu and Kashmir.

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"Pakistani state-sponsored terrorism attempted to prevent Kashmiris from casting their ballot in the valley," Vajpayee said at an election rally in Mandi town near Shimla.

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"But the people of Kashmir responded well and despite fear of the bullet people had come out and voted," he said on the last day of campaigning in the Lok Sabha election.

"My government has taken the initiative by extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan as peace was essential for removing poverty in the both the countries.

"Official level talks are going on between the two countries, which will be followed by ministerial level talks. Ultimately a summit could also take place," he said.

The Prime Minister also lashed out at the Congress party, saying its chief Sonia Gandhi "must clarify her party's position in the Telgi stamp scandal".

He accused the Congress party-ruled states of diverting funds under the extensive Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna, or prime minister's road project.

Vajpayee promised a sum of Rs 200 billion for "the overhauling and maintenance of the Indian railway system if the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is voted back to power".

He condemned personalised attacks on each other during election campaigns by politicians.

The last phase of polling for the staggered general election takes place on May 10 and counting will be take up on May 13.

Vajpayee was earlier scheduled to stay on in his summer cottage in the mountain resort town of Manali until May 12. But he reportedly planned to fly back to Delhi after his last speech in Punjab Saturday.

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