Saturday, January 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

India rules out early talks with Pak
Wants Dawood, Chhota Shakeel, Memon
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
The 21-hour-long India visit of US Secretary of State Colin Powell concluded this afternoon with tangible progress in defusing tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad, but the mood in the Vajpayee government is of no immediate de-escalation or resumption of talks with Pakistan.

The Indian leadership is understood to be of the view, which according to sources has been conveyed to General Powell, that until Pakistan takes visible ground action to put a stop to cross-border terrorism the Indian troops would not be recalled from borders to their peacetime locations and there would be no resumption of talks with Islamabad.

The logic behind “no military de-escalation” decision is that there is no point in recalling the troops to the barracks and sending them again to the borders if Pakistan continues to launch cross-border terrorism against India.

In other words, though the war clouds, which had thickened alarmingly a few days back, have thinned down somewhat, the Vajpayee government does not seem to be inclined to give up its coercive diplomacy.

It is understood that General Powell’s peace formula, which he discussed with the Pakistani and the Indian leadership during his visit to the Indian subcontinent, would take shape by the end of this month.

The Pakistan Government is understood to have conveyed to General Powell and through him to the Indian Government that it was willing to extradite five Sikh terrorists to India whose names figure in the list of 20 individuals which India handed over to Pakistan on December 31. Fourteen terrorists in this list of 20 happen to be Indians while the rest are Pakistanis.

The proposal is not acceptable to India as agreeing to this would tantamount to forgoing the other nine Indian nationals in this list of 20. At the same time, India has made it clear that Pakistan would have to extradite the big three: underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel and Tiger Memon. All three are prime accused in the March 12, 1993 Bombay blasts and are household names in the subcontinent.

Obviously, the Vajpayee government is not unmindful of the big boost the extradition of these big three to India can give to the BJP’s electoral fortunes in next month’s Assembly elections in UP and Punjab.

However, the mood in the government here is that action by Pakistan on the list of 20 is not enough.

India would order its troops back to the barracks and resume talks with Pakistan only after Pakistan does the following:

(i) stops infiltration of terrorists into India.

(ii) stops using territory under its control as terrorism-breeding grounds.

(iii) stops unprovoked firing on the Line of Control.

(iv) puts a complete stop to using terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy.Back

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