Friday, June 1, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Indo-Pak summit around July 15
Vajpayee briefs Cabinet
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
The Vajpayee-Musharraf summit is likely to be held around July 15, within days of the Prime Minister recuperating from the knee-replacement surgery.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will undergo surgery in Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai, on June 7 and he is expected to be discharged at least 10 days later. He will undergo post-operative physiotherapy for another two weeks before attending important public functions, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told reporters here today.

Pakistan military ruler while accepting the invitation of Mr Vajpayee for talks has suggested four sets of dates for the summit — June 20, 25, end of June or early July.

Mr Vajpayee briefed the Cabinet about his decision to invite Musharraf for talks as it was the first meeting after the government extended the invitation to the military ruler on May 23 and called off the six-month-old unilateral ceasefire.

Mr Mahajan said the Prime Minister informed the Cabinet colleagues about his letter to the Pakistani military ruler and the response from Mr Musharraf.

The Prime Minister stressed the government was keen on having peace in the region and Mr Vajpayee wanted to give the peace initiative “another chance”, Mr Mahajan said.

While India was in favour of engaging with a democratic set-up in Pakistan, it also could not overlook the reality of a military regime in place there, he said recalling that New Delhi in the past has dealt with military rulers in Pakistan.

Mr Mahajan said the LoC remained quiet during the last six months. The ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir had not yielded the desired results with civilian killings by militants going up.

In response to Mr Vajpayee’s briefing which lasted for about 10 minutes, some Cabinet Ministers suggested that India should put forward its stand in clear terms during the summit.

The Prime Minister said while taking the decision to invite Musharraf, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had taken into account the views of Home Minister L K Advani and Defence and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh who had recently attended a meeting of the unified command of security forces in Srinagar.

The strong desire for peace by the people of Jammu and Kashmir was another key factor that was taken into account by the CCS, Mr Mahajan said.


Lashkar men given safe passage

Srinagar, May 31
Militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, who had holed themselves up in a mosque at Kharhama in Shopian after a gunfight with the security forces that left two jawans dead, were given a free passage late last night to maintain the sanctity of the place of worship.

In other militancy related incidents, 12 militants, including five Pakistani infiltrators and three security personnel were among 16 persons killed while forces averted a major tragedy and also busted a hideout in the state during the past 24 hours.

Official sources told UNI that the siege was lifted late in the night to avoid any encounter between militants holed up inside the mosque and the security forces.

Taking into account the sanctity of the mosque, the siege around the mosque was lifted to avoid any damage to the place of worship, which could have hurt the sentiments of the people, the sources said.

The militants, who were probably two or three in number later left the mosque, sources said.

Journalists, who visited the area last evening said about a dozen villages around the mosque were sealed by the security forces immediately after militants entered the place of worship after killing a soldier and a special police officer of the Jammu and Kashmir police.

The forces, however did not retaliate to avoid any damage to the mosque, the sources said.

The situation in the area was normal and usual prayers were resumed in the mosque, they added.

An official spokesman said the security forces guarding borders noticed a group of 11 militants trying to cross over the Indian side from Kanatla Gali Pindi in the Poonch sector late last night.

When challenged, the infiltrators opened fire on the forces and in the return fire five militants were killed. Two jawans also sustained bullet injuries. Five AK rifles were recovered near the site of encounter.

In another successful operation, forces killed three militants at Dhok Pattan in the Buffliaz sector last evening. However, the security forces did not suffer any casualty. Later, an AK rifle, six magazines, two grenades and one wireless set were seized. Two security personnel were killed on the spot when militants attacked a patrol party at Marhote village in the Surankote sector last evening. The ultras, however, escaped.

Another special police officer was killed and two others injured when militants attacked them with automatic weapons at Dachhan Bridge in Doda district of Jammu region last evening.

The security forces averted a major tragedy when they detected and later defused a powerful improvised explosive device planted by militants at Madana-Surankote road today while a shop was damaged when an explosive device went off at Surankote last night.

Official sources said an encounter took place between militants and security forces at Chowkibal, about 100 km from here in north Kashmir in the wee hours today during a search operation.

Forces retaliated and in the clash, which was still going on, three militants believed to be of Lashkar-e-Toiba were killed.

Another foreign militant was gunned down by the security forces in the Watlab area at Zethyar last evening. Three AK rifles, 14 magazines, 830 rounds, three 51 mm mortar bombs and one Pika gun were seized.

Militants shot dead an alleged security informer Mohammad Younis Mir at Kralpatheri late last night. UNIBack


Rise in cross-border terrorism
Pak troops giving logistic support: MoD report
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
The Ministry of Defence has said that there is no indication of Islamabad creating a conducive atmosphere for a meaningful dialogue and instead it had stepped up sponsorship of cross-border terrorism.

The statement came in its annual report released this morning. The Ministry said despite India’s insistence on the creation of a conducive atmosphere, Islamabad had only continued with its hostile approaches and policies towards New Delhi.

The MoD also expressed concern over the developments in the other neighbouring countries specially Nepal and Afghanistan. The spread of Maoist violence in the Himalayan Kingdom and the continuing conflict in Afghanistan had an affect on the peace and stability in the region, the report said.

The MoD was particularly worried about the unfolding events in Afghanistan, which it said were detrimental to the security interests in the region. “Any fundamental regime in Afghanistan, such as the Taliban, could be an insidious threat to our secularism, as well as potential destabilising factor in Kashmir”.

The Taliban and Pakistan remain committed to having a military solution to the Afghan conflict. An important aspect of military operations in Afghanistan last year was the qualitative and quantitative increase in Pakistani military assistance to the Taliban.

On Pakistan, the report said, there were “ clear indications” that it sought to sabotage the peace initiative, unilaterally announced by the Indian government in November in the form of a ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The escalation in levels of Pakistan’s sponsorship of cross-border terrorism was clearly indicated by the qualitative improvements in weapons, communication equipment and training that was made available to all Pakistan-based terrorist groups,” the report said.

It also said Pakistan army troops on the Indo-Pak border continued to provide logistic support to these groups for infiltration into India. “The objective has been to enhance the capabilities of these groups to directly confront Indian security forces and well-protected targets.”

Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harkut-ul-Majahideen are some of the Pakistan-based militant groups. During the six-month-old unilateral ceasefire, announced by the Prime Minister on November 19 (that expires today), these militant groups escalated violence through attacks on fortified targets, especially by the Fidayeen (suicide group) of Lashkar-e-Toiba.

The report described Pakistan’s announcement of “maximum restraint” along the Line of Control (LoC) as ‘clearly self-serving in nature” as it did not address India’s concerns related to Islamabad’s continued sponsorship of cross-border terrorism. “Simultaneously, Pakistan also continued with its shrill campaign of anti-India propaganda.”

The report said Pakistan also sabotaged the July, 2000 unilateral ceasefire offer by the leadership of Hizbul Mujahideen with stepped up violence in Jammu and Kashmir and “intense political pressure on the group’s Pakistan-based leadership”.

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