Jammu, March 17 IANS | 7 months ago

The people of India and Pakistan want to live in peace and amity, but the Pakistan Army and ISI were the biggest hurdles in normalising relations between the two neighbours, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Monday.

"The notorious intelligence agency of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Pakistani Army do not want peace between the two countries," Azad said at a public meeting in Mendhar border town in Poonch district.

"Those at the helm of affairs in ISI and the Pakistani Army are minting money by launching a hatred campaign against India.

"Through the hatred campaign, the Pakistani army and ISI are ensuring that normalisation of relations does not happen," he said.

Azad said it was during the Congress-led regime in the state that normalcy was restored and those who had created terror were taken to task.

"At that time of militancy, our sisters and daughters were harassed and tortured by foreign mercenaries. But when I took over as chief minister, security and self-respect for women remained my top priority.

"And now things have changed a lot and people, especially those living in the border villages, are safe and living a peaceful life," he said.

Seeking support for Congress candidate Madan Lal Sharma, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Jammu-Poonch seat, Azad said it was the need of the hour to strengthen secular forces in the country.

He said Congress was the symbol of secularism, and cautioned people against wasting their votes.

Azad said the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was very much aware that its candidate was not going to win the elections and it fielded people only to cut secular votes in Jammu region.

"Only the Congress candidate is in a position to take on divisive politics of the Bharatiya Janata Party... so people should not waste their votes," he said.

Azad said it was time for people to vote for secularism and urged leaders to serve people irrespective of caste, colour and creed.

State Congress chief Saifuddin Soz also appealed to people to realise that the Congress at the centre was fighting a battle against forces of divisiveness, sectarianism and communalism.

Davinder Singh Rana, Ajay Sadhotra and Javed Rana - leaders of the National Conference which is in a coalition government with the Congress in the state - also appealed to the people to vote for their joint candidate Sharma.

(Posted on 17-03-2014)

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