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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Vajpayee attacks 'dictator' Musharraf
Prime Minister Vajpayee (L) with Cypriot President Clerides in Nicosia
Mr Vajpayee's attack may suggest he is losing patience
The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has launched an unusually strong attack against Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf.


Musharraf thought that we will get tired, break apart and surrender Kashmir. This will never happen

Prime Minister Vajpayee

He described General Musharraf as a "self-anointed king", and a dictator who had no parallel in the world.

He said President Musharraf had usurped all powers and barred top Pakistani politicians such as ex-Premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif from entering Pakistan.

Mr Vajpayee was addressing a gathering of expatriate Indians in the Cypriot capital Nicosia late on Monday at the beginning of a week-long European tour.

His statement came just days before Pakistan holds parliamentary elections aimed at restoring democracy.

Declaration destroyed

Mr Vajpayee talked about his frustration at the failure of the "Lahore Declaration" he had signed with Mr Sharif for which he travelled on a special bus to Pakistan in February1999.

Mr Vajpayee reviews honour guard in Nicosia
Mr Vajpayee is on a week-long tour of Europe
We want friendship with our neighbouring countries," he said. "So I went to Lahore by bus, but the bus later got punctured."

Mr Vajpayee recalled that while he was signing the Lahore Declaration, General Musharraf, then Pakistan's army chief, was plotting intrusions around Kargil in Indian-administered Kashmir.

"This is such a big betrayal of trust," he said, "you can change friends, but not your neighbours. You have to learn to live with them."

Kashmir flashpoint

Speaking of the state assembly elections being held in Kashmir, Mr Vajpayee said his government had received co-operation from the people there and there was "no question" of leaving Kashmir.

Rejecting the religious basis of Pakistan's claim to Kashmir, he said: "We can never accept this."

Mr Vajpayee condemned the "barbarism" of militancy in Kashmir and President Musharraf's description of it as a "freedom struggle" and a "war of liberation".

He said, "Musharraf thought that we will get tired, break apart and surrender Kashmir. This will never happen."

Mr Vajpayee renewed his verbal attack on Pakistan in an interview given to the London newspaper, the Financial Times.

Fighting talk

He said President Musharraf had failed to honour his commitment to world leaders that he would not allow militants to enter Kashmir.

Mr Vajpayee said General Musharraf's "onslaught on Pakistan" had taken many Indians by surprise, and trusting the general would be a tall order for him.

Reminding everyone of Pakistan's division in 1971, he said: "Those who orchestrated partition of India, they themselves had to face partition in the form of Bangladesh."

Analysts say Mr Vajpayee is usually a soft-spoken politician but seems to be losing his patience with the Pakistani leader.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been at an all-time low since a militant attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001.

The two countries still have about a million soldiers deployed along the border.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Satish Jacob
"Mr Vajpayee said trusting General Musharraf would be a tall order for him."
See also:

30 Sep 02 | South Asia
28 Jun 02 | South Asia
05 Jun 02 | South Asia
23 May 02 | South Asia
23 May 02 | South Asia
07 Feb 02 | South Asia
07 Jan 02 | South Asia
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