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Tuesday, November 3, 1998
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India releases 149 Pak fishermen
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Nov 2 — Signalling its positive intent to the second leg of Indo-Pak composite dialogue begun last month in Islamabad and commencing here from November 5, India today announced the release of 149 Pakistani fishermen, including those arrested on October 24 this year, from Indian jails.

"We feel that innocent fishermen should not remain in jails", an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said briefing newspersons about the dialogue covering six remaining issues, including Siachen.

The spokesman said that "we have already informed Pakistan of our decision to release the fishermen and have asked the Pakistani High Commission here to make the necessary arrangements for their repatriation".

During the Foreign Secretary-level talks in Islamabad last month, the Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif, had announced his country’s decision to release the Indian fishermen.

The spokesman said that Pakistan had informed India that it had 155 fishermen in its custody. "However, our records show that there were some more Indian fishermen in Pakistani jails", he said.

The spokesman said that in so far as Indian fishermen were concerned, Delhi would soon send a team of officials and boat owners. The boat owners would repair the captured boats so that the fishermen could be brought back, he said. "I expect the same procedure would be followed by the Pakistani authorities ", he said.

The announcement came three days before India and Pakistan resume their official-level dialogue from November 5 to 13 on six issues namely, Tulbul and the Wullar barrage navigation project, Siachen on November 6, Sir Creek on November 9, economic and commercial cooperation on November 10, terrorism and drug trafficking on November 12 and promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields on November 13.

The spokesman said there were no obstacles from the Indian side to the proposed direct bus service between Lahore and Delhi to begin. "We have done our homework and are now waiting for the response of our Pakistani colleagues", the spokesman said, adding that "our bureaucracy is very eager and keen to implement the decision taken by the two Prime Ministers".

The spokesman said that Pakistani Secretary of Water and Power, Syed Shahid Hussain, would lead the Pakistani delegation along with the Commissioner of Indus Water and officials and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi and the Ministry of Water and Power.

The Indian side would be led by the Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Mr Z. Hassan, along with the Commissioner of Indus Water on the Indian side and officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Water Resources and the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

The issue of Siachen, slated for talks on November 6, would be dealt with at the Defence Secretary-level. The Pakistani delegation would be led by the Secretary, Defence, Lt Gen Ch. Iftikhar Ali Khan (retd). The Indian delegation would be led by the Defence Secretary, Mr Ajit Kumar.

Sir Creek, scheduled to be discussed on November 9, would be taken up at the level of Surveyors-General of the two countries. While the Indian side would be led by Lt-Gen A.K. Ahuja, the Pakistani side would be led by Rear Adm Jamil Akhtar, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Defence.

Economic and commercial cooperation, due for November 10 would be discussed at the Commerce Secretary-level. The Indian side would be led by Mr P.P. Prabhu and the Pakistani delegation would be headed by Mian Iqbal Farid.

Terrorism and drug trafficking, listed for November 12, would be taken up by the Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr B.P. Singh, and the Secretary in the Pakistani Ministry of Interior, Mr Hafeezulah Ishaq.

Talks on promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields, due for November 13, would be led by the Secretary, Culture, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Mr R.V.V. Ayyar and the Secretary, Culture in the Pakistani Ministry of Culture, Syed Roshan Zamir.

Replying to a question on the proposed purchase of power from Pakistan by India , the spokesman said that the latter was keen on it but it depended on technical discussions. "Our team can go to Pakistan whenever it is convenient to them or a Pakistani team can come to India whenever it is convenient to them", he pointed out. "India is very serious about the matter", he said.

On the economic and commercial cooperation, the spokesman said that India had already extended the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan. He further said that Pakistan was under obligation to extend the same status to us.

On the issue of terrorism, the spokesman said that "we have our concerns and we would make these concerns clear to our Pakistani colleagues". Drug trafficking was a serious issue and the two sides had already been in touch on the issue, he said.

In response to a question on an agreement on Siachen existing between India and Pakistan as claimed by Islamabad, the spokesman categorically said that there was no such agreement. The two sides had discussed the issue in 1992. "We are interested in establishing peace and tranquillity there", he said.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani delegation led by water and Power Secretary Syed Shahid Hussain arrived here tonight mainly for discussions on the Tulbul navigation project, adds PTI.back


2 Pak soldiers killed
Attacks on Siachen repulsed
Tribune News Service

SRINAGAR, Nov 2 — Two more attempts by Pakistani troops in Siachen glacier since last evening have been effectively repulsed by the Army killing two Pak soldiers, while a sentry of the Indian Army was injured, a Defence spokesman said here today. Sources, however, revealed that another jawan was killed due to firing by Pakistani troops, at Sita Post in Siachen in these attacks.

The two attempts were in continuation of earlier three attempts made by the Pakistani troops in the area. Both attempts were beaten back with casualties on the Pak side, the Defence spokesman said.

Another jawan was injured when Pakistan troops resorted to shelling at Tangdhar and Chamkot in forward district of Kupwara on Sunday. He has been identified as Havildar Srinivas. Giving details of the firing, a Defence spokesman said here the Pakistani troops opened unprovoked heavy artillery and mortar fire on Sunday morning at Tangdhar Army base and Chamkot in Kupwara district. ‘‘Indian troops gave an appropriate response. Currently intermittent firing is continuing in Tangdhar sector’’, the spokesman stated here this evening.

‘‘In the first attack by Pakistan in Siachen last evening the alert Indian sentry, paratrooper Kuber Chand, opened fire and simultaneously alerted the rest of his post,’’ the Defence spokesman stated. He added that effective light machine gun and medium machine gun fire was brought down on the Pakistani soldiers and two Pakistani soldiers were killed while the rest dispersed under the cover of darkness, reports said.

An Army soldier was killed while a sentry was injured in the attack by Pak troops at Sita Post, 6 km West of NJ 9842, the demarcation point between the Line of Control (LoC) and the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), early this morning. ‘‘Sepoy Raj Kumar the sentry on an Indian post 6 km West of NJ 9842, on seeing seven to eight Pak soldiers approaching towards the Indian post at a distance of 450 to 500 metres from the post opened fire and alerted the post’’, according to the Defence spokesman.

‘‘Another six to seven Pakistani soldiers also opened fire from a different direction. A clear indicator of a deliberate attempt to capture the post. In this case Pakistani troops had intruded well into our territory to attack the post. However, due to timely and effective fire by the Indian troops, the Pakistanis were beaten back to the AGPL’’, the Defence spokesman stated.back


Talks with India
Pak seeks involvement of EU

ISLAMABAD, Nov 2 (DPA) — A senior Pakistani leader today called for the European Union’s close involvement in the India-Pakistan dialogue to bring a durable peace in South Asia by resolving the Kashmir dispute.

Mr Wasim Sajjad, chairman of the Senate, the Upper House of Parliament, said that if India could be persuaded by third parties "to show a flexible and innovative attitude ... we can move easily to expand ties in other fields as well".

Mr Sajjad made the remarks at a Pakistan-German dialogue which opened in Islamabad to study the situation created by the nuclear tests by India and then by Pakistan in May.

Germany would head the EU and the G-8 countries, who slapped sanctions against the two South Asian nations, effective in the first half of 1999.

"For a billion people held hostage by the hostility of the two major players, it is not very hard to imagine what South Asia would be if Pakistan and India were to cooperate, not only on bilateral trade, water, population and other issues, but on preserving the strategic interests of South Asia," the Pakistani leader said.

Mr Christian Ruck, a parliamentarian who is leading the German team participating in the Pakistan-German dialogue, urged both India and Pakistan "to return to the policy of non-proliferation" and sign the comprehensive test ban treaty.

Mr Ruck said the German people asked their government to justify giving financial assistance to nations who spend their own money on building weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Ruck also voiced the German people’s concern over the fundamentalist trends in Pakistan and the policies of Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers "and their foreign supporters".

He appealed to Pakistan "to remain a tolerant country".back

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