Advani indicates he was for action against Kandahar hijackers

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New Delhi, Mar 14 (UNI) BJP's prime ministerial nominee L K Advani today indicated that he was for action against the Kandahar hijackers but the NDA Cabinet decided to release three terrorists in return for the safety of the 160-odd Indian Airlines passengers held hostage in December 1999.

Replying to a question by the then chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah at the 'India Today' conclave here, Mr Advani said his views about the hijack incidents were ''broadly known'' and as the Home Minister he had expressed his opinion before the Cabinet.

''The Government felt that the lives of the passengers should be saved and I was very much part of it. I can't define anything but this is the background,'' Mr Advani remarked.

Dr Abdullah, the PDP patron, seeking clarification said Mr Advani was known as the 'hard face' of the BJP and the Government. ''Could the government have sacrificed the lives of the passengers. What was the strategy of the government in releasing three terrorist suspects (including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Mohammad Azhar)?'' he asked.

The last time Mr Advani made his observations at Pune a few years ago during his 'Sankalp Yatra', he had created a stir within the BJP with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee expressing his annoyance about Mr Advani's distancing himself from the ''unanimous decision''.

Giving the example of the failed Agra talks, Mr Advani said if the NDA Government was interested in compromising on terrorism, talks in the Indo-Pakistan summit at Agra would never have failed that too when Pakistan President Gen Musharraf was invited by the Government.

He said it was the decision of the entire Cabinet that it could not accept Pakistan's perception that cross border terrorism was liberation struggle. But when Pakistan held him personally as the reason behind the failure of the summit, Mr Advani said he did not mind it at all.

However, things could be normalised only after Pakistan gave up its rigid stance and denounced all forms of terror openly and vowed not to allow its territory for terrorist activities in 2004.

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