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Optimism to the fore: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with senior BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani at his residence in New Delhi on Monday.
NEW DELHI: Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday that the joint statement by India and Pakistan had “tried to disrupt the national consensus” among all political parties that wanted Pakistan to crack down on terrorism in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks.
There was consensus among Indian political parties for a concrete and credible action by Pakistan against the perpetrators of the terror strikes that had its genesis across the border, but the joint statement had sought to de-link terrorism from the composite dialogue.
He also expressed displeasure over the reference to Balochistan in the statement, saying it put India “on the dock” over disruptive activities in the region.
“In India, all political parties were one after 26/11 that until Pakistan takes strong measures against those responsible for terror attacks in the country, there cannot be further progress. This joint statement has tried to disrupt the national consensus,” senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said, quoting Mr. Advani during his talks with Ms. Clinton.
She said the joint statement issued by India and Pakistan in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, was the focus of the 45-minute discussion between Mr. Advani and Ms. Clinton.
“The BJP has favoured good relations with the U.S., but any action against this consensus will not get the country’s support,” Mr. Advani is reported to have told Ms. Clinton. “Therefore, we should not try to placate others.”
Ms. Clinton with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at Ms. Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi.
Mr. Advani told the Secretary of State that the BJP had raised this issue in Parliament and was concerned that despite the Mumbai attacks Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had de-linked terrorism from the composite dialogue.
“Mr. Advani told her that India and Pakistan can have good relations but not by such wrong moves,” Ms. Swaraj told reporters.
Mr. Advani told Ms. Clinton that as Leader of the Opposition he “wanted her to know the country’s concern and consensus” on terrorism and expected her to appreciate these concerns. Ms. Swaraj said Mr. Advani was “satisfied” with his interaction. Ms. Clinton heard Mr. Advani and did not confront or contradict him, she said.
Recalling his tenure as Home Minister, Mr. Advani told Ms. Clinton that he had dealt with cross-border terrorism at that time and said the NDA regime had taken two major initiatives — Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s bus trip to Lahore and the Agra summit — to engage Pakistan in dialogue.
Ms. Swaraj said that the Secretary of State raised four or five issues, including climate change.
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