Monday, January 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India not to lower guard
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 13
Going by the dictum “The proof of the pudding is in eating it”, the Vajpayee government would continue to keep the troops in a fully deployed and prepared state on the borders while allowing “some time” to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to implement a series of measures he announced yesterday.

The situation today is that though the clouds of war which were hanging low have somewhat thinned but not to such an extent that India may agree for holding talks with Pakistan in the foreseeable future.

The decision to de-alert the Indian troops and withdraw them to their peacetime locations would be taken only after Pakistan matches its words with deeds, well-placed sources here said today.

This is because of two reasons. One, the Indian leadership believes that General Musharraf made an amazingly path-breaking speech yesterday — which is also being interpreted as a virtual winding up of Pakistan’s infamous 36-year-old “Operation Topac” — mainly because of pressure from the international community. The international pressure, in turn, was generated by India’s coercive diplomacy as the soldiers were ordered out of their barracks and deployed on the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border with Pakistan.

Secondly, the Government of India has taken note of the delay by Islamabad in issuing the notification for banning the terrorist outfits which raises suspicion that it was a deliberate ploy by the Musharraf regime to allow cadres of these outfits to disappear and remove all incriminating material before the “crackdown” is launched. This delay, putatively on account of certain legal problems, has buttressed an impression of General Musharraf’s capability of riding two horses simultaneously.

Sources here discounted the possibility of India going for talks with Pakistan in the immediate future, saying that it would take a minimum of two to three weeks for General Musharraf to implement his yesterday’s announcements. In case, General Musharraf were to actually get down to business, it would then obviously bring India under pressure to de-escalate tensions, announce a military de-alert and begin talks with Pakistan.

However, until this were to happen, the ball would remain in Pakistan’s court only, observers here believe.

An influential section of the government which is sceptical about General Musharraf’s intentions believes that he may get bogged down in quibbling over his words and revert back to his favourite distinction between terrorism and “freedom struggle” in Jammu and Kashmir. It is against this background that External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh today stressed the need for General Musharraf to extend his commitment of not supporting or permitting use of Pakistani territory for terrorism to “all territories under Pakistan’s control”.

This obviously means that General Musharraf must demonstrate it to the world that this commitment of his extends to the northern areas as well as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).Back

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