Jaswant defends NDA decision to free terrorists
New Delhi: Former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh on Saturday defended the NDA dispensation's decision to free three dreaded terrorists to save the lives of 166 hijacked passengers of IC-814 and said governments should always opt for such a decision.
"Governments must always opt and act for saving lives," Singh said in a programme on Bloomberg TV where he shared the table with former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
Asked about the case, Singh said when the negotiations started during the hijack, the initial demand was to free some 36 terrorists and hand over USD 360 million, among others.
The senior leader accepted that the initial response of the Cabinet was no deal. But then the decision was changed.
He accepted that the decision was swayed by the mood of the people as the relatives of the hijacked passengers were putting pressure on the government.
Both Singh and Musharraf made it clear that India and Pakistan had never entered into a nuclear brinkmanship even at the height of confrontation during Kargil conflict.
"There is no finger on the (nuclear) button because the nuclear assets are not mated with the delivery systems," Musharraf said, a view endorsed by Singh.
"No, I don't think so," Musharraf said to a question on whether India had any territorial designs on Pakistan. He said India did not take over Bangladesh after the 1971 war.
Musharraf reiterated his four-point formula to resolve the differences between India and Pakistan and noted with a tinge of sadness that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not visit Islamabad in 2007 when he claimed there was progress in the peace talks.
"There was a general agreement, if he (Manmohan Singh) visits, we would sign some agreements," Musharraf said adding it was a time when his personal popularity had dipped in Pakistan.