India Must Stand Tough With Pakistan, New Leader Says

The new president of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said yesterday that he was confident the new coalition government would overcome differences between its member parties.

"There are bound to be 'hiccups' now and then. We have the strength to ride over them," said Kushabhu Thakre, who took over the BJP presidency from Lal Krishna Advani yesterday.

The six-week-old government has been weakened by a public row among its diverse constituent parties. Two ministers were eased out after courts ordered them to stand trial on corruption charges.

In his address, the Hindu nationalist party chief said the government must be "firm with Pakistan, which is responsible for continuing to foment terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir by sending foreign mercenaries and arms across the border."

Pakistan says it only offers moral and diplomatic support to the rebels in India's only Muslim-majority state.

Mr. Thakre said Pakistan's recent test of its surface-to-surface Ghauri missile should be taken as a threat, and India must make efforts to look after its national security.

"Those who want to impose the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on us have constantly turned a blind eye to Pakistan's belligerent attitude," he said.

India has exercised a self-imposed moratorium on testing and proliferation since it exploded a nuclear device in 1974. But it rejects the NPT and the CTBT because it says they are discriminatory.

"Good relations between India and Pakistan will be possible only when the latter reciprocates by discontinuing the policy of fomenting violence in India," he added.

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