Saturday, Jun 07, 2003
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By K. Balchand
The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, at the foundation laying ceremony of a bridge on the Kosi river in Bihar on Friday. AP
Addressing a mammoth meeting after laying the foundation for the Rs. 323-crore Kosi mega rail bridge project, Mr. Vajpayee maintained that there had been a decrease in cross-border terrorism but asserted that the Damocles' sword of terrorism had to be brought down for talks to begin.
The Prime Minister said Delhi had made it clear that the problem could be solved only through talks and not war. "War is not a solution. We fought three battles with what results? Nothing had been gained."
Drawing an analogy with the proposed bridge, Mr. Vajpayee said Delhi was keen on bridging the distance with all its neighbours including Pakistan, stressing that one could change friends but not neighbours. "We have to live together but that was possible only on the basis of justice, friendship and equality."
The Prime Minister asserted that India would not give up its path of `dharm' (righteousness) and would not rest till Islamabad realised its own `dharm' for improving relations.
Ahead of the resumption of road communication with Pakistan, Mr. Vajpayee said tourists with passports and visas would be welcome, but not those seeking to sneak in surreptitiously.
``There was no place for terrorists and they would not be allowed to come in and annihilate innocent men, women and children."
Referring to his recent European tour, the Prime Minister said he had undertaken the visit as the head of a developing country and the reactions there had spurred him into making this country a developed one. "We have to get over the problem of self-guilt and resolve to prevail. We have to make this century, India's century."
He hinted at the possibility of launching space missions soon, expressing confidence in the abilities of Indian scientists to land a man on the moon.
"Our scientists show the light in other countries. But before that we want to light up each house."
Expressing concern over world opinion on the poor growth rate, the Prime Minister underlined his intention of creating a mechanism which would monitor development activities and ensure proper use of funds. "We have to do something to convince them (the world) of our seriousness."
He sought the cooperation and support of NRIs in achieving the goal. Responding to the Bihar Chief Minister, Rabri Devi's demand for a special package to the State, Mr. Vajpayee said some of the demands had been met, while some others were in the pipeline. The Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, presided.
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