Tuesday, January 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

The letter Mishra gave to Sattar
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 7
India is understood to have handed over its “minimum list of demands” to Pakistan for easing the current military standoff between the two and categorically conveyed that time for action with Islamabad was only “a few days” after which “other options” would be open to New Delhi.

This Indian stand was contained in a terse note which Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Principal Secretary and National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra handed over to Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar during the just ended SAARC summit in Kathmandu.

A senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs here asserted today that the Indian patience was “not interminable”. The official disclosed that the coming days could see some more hard-hitting diplomatic steps after which the last option would be the military option.

Some of the diplomatic steps could be :

  • Further reduction of staffers and diplomats of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and Pakistan’s High Commission here.
  • Directing Pakistan High Commissioner Ashraf Jahangir Qazi to leave India.
  • Withdraw most favoured nation (MFN) status from Pakistan.
  • Abrogate Indus River Water Treaty (though this matter is highly complicated and makes it mandatory for either side to give a minimum notice of six months for the abrogation of the treaty).

An extreme step could well be totally closing down the Indian High Commission in Pakistan and directing Pakistan to close its mission here too.

The MEA official’s comment is to be seen against the backdrop of the fact that Indian troops have been on fullest alert and in a combat position along Pakistan border for the past more then 10 days. This state of maximum alert cannot remain for ever and, moreover, well-placed sources here said, it costs the Indian exchequer massive amount of money to keep its defence services on war-preparedness levels.

According to the sources, the note that Mr Brajesh Mishra handed over to Mr Abdul Sattar also made it clear that India would be waiting for a positive response from Pakistan only for a few days and if such a response was not forthcoming it would be compelled to use “other options”.

One of the basic prerequisites mentioned by India is that Pakistan “must” act on the list of 20 terrorists and criminals which India gave to the Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner here on December 31, 2001, asking for their custody without further delay. This list was further expanded by one more the very next day when India submitted a note (NV No. J/103/51/2001) to Counsellor (Political), Pakistan High Commission seeking the extradition of Ranjit Singh, alias Neeta, wanted for terrorist activities in Jammu. Enclosed along with this note was also a red corner alert notice issued by Interpol numbered A-723/7-2000 as well as details of cases registered against him.

The sources disclosed that India had shared more evidence with some major western powers like the USA, the UK and France in past few days which spoke volumes of Pakistan’s involvement in aiding and abetting terrorist activities against India.

New Delhi also apprised these friendly countries of how Pakistan had been ignoring bilaterally signed agreements to counter terrorism. One of these agreements was signed during a meeting of Home Secretaries of the two countries in Islamabad in May 1989.

Sources said British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who concluded his India visit today, had virtually gone empty handed from here to Pakistan unable to extract any assurances of softening its stand from the Indian leadership.

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