UPA didnt follow Atal line on Pak: Jaitley

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 2 2009, 04:47am hrs
Only two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh praised Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lok Sabha, in a bid to take the edge off the Opposition attack on the government over the Indo-Pak joint statement, the BJP tried to get back at the ruling coalition by drawing a distinction between NDAs approach vis-a-vis Pakistan and the UPAs.

Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley, speaking in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, said that lauding the Vajpayee line could not shield the Prime Minister from the monumental lapse of reversing Indias stand in dealing with Pakistan. On Wednesday, Singh had described Vajpayee as a statesman and said that he shared his vision and frustration while dealing with Pakistan. Not only praise, but Vajpayee is now sought to be used as a shield to cover up for their own monumental lapse, Jaitley told the Upper House on Friday.

He contended that Vajpayee negotiated from a position of strength while Singh had meekly given in to Pakistan. After having agreed to the shameful draft, the whole country is now being told that this is the Vajpayee line that we are pursuing. The two cant be more diametrically opposite, he said, insisting that delinking action on terrorism from the composite dialogue completely destroyed the Vajpayee line.

The Vajpayee line was clear. I prefer a dialogue, but a dialogue without terror. I will negotiate with you from a point of strength. And what do we find now, in the July 16 operative paragraph from Sharm-el Sheikh, he asked. The statement says dialogue is important; dialogue irrespective of terror.

Jaitley also made a scathing attack on the inclusion of Balochistan in the joint statement, ridiculing the governments reply that it was Pakistans unilateral perception that India did not endorse. Contending that joint statements only contained agreed texts and not unilateral assertions, the BJP leader said that an Indian view should have been expressed together with the Pakistani viewpoint.

We went with this complaint, with this grievance that terrorism was emanating from Pakistan, and we came back with this albatross of Balochistan hanging on our neck, Jaitley said. The government had started a damage containment exercise, he said, which was now leading to explanations at every step.