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HindustanTimes.com » India-Pakistan: Talking Peace »  Story
Pakistan expresses shock over Advani's resignation as BJP chief

Agence France-Presse

Karachi, June 7, 2005
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Pakistan reacted with shock after Opposition leader and BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani offered on Tuesday to resign as chief of the party, having drawn fire for praising Pakistan's founding father.

"I am shocked and surprised over the reaction," information minister Sheikh Rashid told the agency.

Advani returned to New Delhi on Monday from a week-long visit to Pakistan, where he was quoted as saying that the country's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah was a "great man" who had favoured a secular state to an Islamic Pakistan.

"Advani's image in Pakistan was as a hardliner and a hated man. But he proved otherwise and left a positive image. Why it caused problems within India is difficult to understand," Rashid added.

Advani's visit had also helped the peace process between India and Pakistan, who have gone to war on three occasions in the last six decades, the minister said.

A senior leader of the ethnic Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which represents some of the Pakistanis who fled India after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, said Advani had done a "very honourable thing".

"He preferred resignation over withdrawing his statements, which will help in reducing the tension," said Nasreen Jalil. The party warmly welcomed Advani's visit.

However, the Karachi chief of Pakistan's main fundamentalist party, Jamaat-i-Islami, Merajul Huda, said Advani's resignation showed that hawks were still in charge of his Bharatiya Janata Party.

"The resignation clearly showed that the hardline Hindus have not accepted Pakistan and when Advani adopted a realistic approach, they forced him to quit," he told the agency.

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