Pulwama: All-party meet backs govt

Pulwama: All-party meet backs govt

Meet passes resolution condemning the terror attack and support being given to it from across the border

Rajnath Singh chairing a meeting of floor leaders of political parties in both the houses of parliament, in New Delhi on Saturday, February 16, 2019 to hold consultations in the wake of the Pulwama attack. Photo: MHA

BJP allies on Saturday piled pressure on the Modi government for stronger action against Pakistan even as Opposition parties expressed solidarity with the security forces and the government in the aftermath of the Pulwama terrorist attack.

The day also saw India increasing customs duty on all goods imported from Pakistan to 200%, following revocation of the ‘most-favoured nation’ (MFN) status.

At the all-party meeting convened by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the entire political leadership denounced the terror attack in one voice and slammed the support being given to terrorism “from across the border”.

The Opposition leaders also voiced disappointment at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s absence at the meeting and urged Rajnath to convey their sentiments to him.

“We requested the home minister to convey to the prime minister on our behalf to convene a meeting of presidents of all national and regional parties. This was supported by other parties,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters after the meeting.

Besides Azad, Congress leaders Anand Sharma, Jyotiraditya Scindia, K C Venugopal, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, D Raja (CPI), Sudeep Bandyopadhyay and Derek O’Brien (TMC), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), Farooq Abdullah (NC), Ramvilas Paswan (LJP), among others attended the meeting.

Raut, a BJP ally, drew Rajnath’s attention to the strong action taken by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi against Pakistan in 1971. “On behalf of the Shiv Sena, I told them (the Centre) that they should now take action,” he told reporters. Union Minister and RPI(A) leader Ramdas Athawale also wanted the Centre to act against Pakistan and wrest back Pak-occupied Kashmir.

Azad said the Opposition may have disagreements with the government on many issues, and they will remain. “But for the sake of our country and its security, we will stand with the government to end terror,” he said.

“The entire nation speaks in one voice to express its determination to fight these challenges,” read a resolution adopted by leaders of political parties.

“Today, we stand united in solidarity with our security forces in fighting terrorism and in defending the unity and integrity of India,” the resolution said.

Former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah wanted the PM to personally handle the sensitive situation in the state and take immediate action to maintain communal harmony. He flagged reports of protests targeted at Kashmiri people in Jammu region and elsewhere as also the concerns over safety of students pursuing higher studies at varsities across the country.

The home minister assured Abdullah that the Centre will not allow social harmony to be affected and will take action even if someone from the BJP was involved in any such act.

Customs duty hike

“Upon withdrawal (of MFN status), basic customs duty on all goods exported from Pakistan to India has been raised to 200% with immediate effect,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitely tweeted.

India had on Friday revoked the 'most-favoured nation' status to Pakistan following the Pulwama terror strike.

India imports fresh fruits, cement, petroleum products, bulk minerals and ores and finished leader from Pakistan.

Pakistan's exports to India stood at USD 488.5 million in 2017-18. It amounted to 3.2% of Pakistan's global trade.

In 2017, India imported 89.62 million dollars worth edible fruits, nuts, peel of citrus and melons from Pakistan and 87.19 million dollars worth of salt, sulphur, earth, stone, plaster, lime and cement.

Raw hides and skins and leather amounted to 21.41 million dollars of imports from Pakistan in 2017.