Says resuming dialogue with Pakistan at this juncture is futile
NEW DELHI: The former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on Wednesday accused the United Progressive Alliance Government of being confused over tackling terrorism that was threatening the country's unity and integrity.
In an apparent reference to the Parliament attack case accused Mohammad Afzal, Mr. Vajpayee said those who had died fighting terrorists during the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament continue to be neglected.
Mr. Vajpayee was addressing a rally to Parliament organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party to press for execution of the death penalty awarded to Mohammad Afzal and caution the Centre against entertaining any clemency petition.
Mr. Vajpayee said terrorism had emerged the biggest threat to the country's unity and integrity, but the Government was confused on how to tackle it. "What is the Government's policy on terror?" he asked.
On resumption of dialogue with Pakistan, he said talks at this juncture were futile. "They [terrorists] are challenging us every day, but the UPA Government is finding ways to talk. We are not against talks, but what is the use? The Government is not sure about its own initiatives."
On Pakistan's involvement in terror activities in India, he said the UPA Government was inconsistent on the issue. "One Ministry says one thing, another says something else," he said, adding that the Mumbai police had blamed Pakistan for the July train bombings. "Still the Government says it will find a solution through talks. But how and in what way?" he asked
In an apparent reference to the coming Assembly polls in five States early next year, Mr. Vajpayee said the issue of national security and the sense of insecurity among people could bring a change in governments. "The situation has to be changed. The BJP urges the people to be ready for any sacrifice for national security. The Government should change its policies. Or else the people would be forced to change the Government."
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani, who led a contingent from Raj Ghat, said both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi should clear their position on the issue of the death for Afzal. "They should clear their stand on Afzal's hanging. It is a question of justice to the security personnel. ... Clemency to Afzal will amount to disrespect to our security forces."
"Azad must go"
Mr. Advani also criticised Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for his alleged support to clemency for Afzal. "The Chief Minister should have been removed the very next day for making such remarks. This delay in execution amounted to betrayal of the nation.''
BJP president Rajnath Singh, who led another contingent from Birla Mandir, said the BJP would gherao Parliament if the death sentence was not carried out. The Government clearly preferred votes to security and integrity of the country, he alleged.
Senior BJP leaders Venkaiah Naidu, Jaswant Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj also addressed the rally.