Monday, May 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Paramilitary forces on LoC, border under Army control
Army asked to repulse mortar attack
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 19
In a significant decision, the Vajpayee Government tonight placed paramilitary forces on the border and the Line of Control (LoC) under the control of the Army and the Coast Guards under the direct command of the Navy.

The decisions were taken at a more than two-hour long meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at his residence here.

A formal instruction in this regard will be issued by the Government tomorrow.

The decision to bring the para-military forces under the direct command of the Army was aimed at better coordination between various forces deployed in the border areas and also to eliminate confusion due to multiplicity of security agencies and their command structure.

On the other hand, the decision to bring the Coast Guards under the control of the Navy was aimed at strengthening patrolling on India’s maritime borders in the wake of intelligence inputs about a possible attack on cargo and passenger ships in the Indian territory by Pak-backed terrorist groups.

External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, who briefed newspersons about the decision taken at the CCS meeting, said the Indian forces would retaliate whenever there was mortar or artillery attack on Indian targets from the Pakistani side.

“The Indian Army will conduct immediate retaliatory fire assaults everytime any such incident takes place from the Pakistan side along the LoC and international border,” he said.

Mr Jaswant Singh said Pakistan had resorted to heavy unprovoked firing on villages in the Jammu-Poonch-Rajouri sectors in which two persons were killed. The Indian Army conducted retaliatory fire assault, which caused heavy damages across the border.

Maintaining that a “unified command” structure had become imperative in view of terrorist strike on para-military installations, Mr Jaswant Singh said “as the para-military forces are also Guarding the border, one authority has to take over the responsibility of guarding the border along the international border and the LoC.”

Bringing the para-military forces along the border under the army and the Coast Guards under the Navy was part of “standard operating procedure,” he said.

To a question on whether the steps being initiated by India were leading to a war-like situation, he said “you are reading what you have to read...I do what I have to do.”

Asked if India proposed to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status us to Pakistan, he said the issue did figure at the meeting but a decision on it would be taken after Commerce Minister Murasoli Maran returns from his foreign tour.

Asked if India was contemplating any more diplomatic steps against Pakistan, he said the CCS discussed these and “the External Affairs Ministry will keep you informed on this... the atmosphere is rife with rumours and you must sift rumours from facts.”

Today’s CCS meeting was the second one in as many days and was held a day after the government asked Pakistan to withdraw its High Commissioner Ashraf Jehangir Qazi within a week. The meeting was attended by Home Minister L.K. Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and the Centre’s interlocutor on Kashmir Mr K.C. Pant. 


Situation ‘very dangerous’: Pak

Islamabad, May 19
Pakistan has termed the situation on the borders with India as “very dangerous” and urged New Delhi to pull back its troops, even as official reports here claimed one more person was killed today due to firing from India in the PoK.

“The situation on the borders is very dangerous. We had said earlier that troops should be pulled back from the borders. The Indian forces are resorting to firing as a result of which a number of civilians have been killed. It is absolutely wrong. They should withdraw their troops from the borders and resolve all disputes through talks”, Pakistan Foreign office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan told BBC Radio here today. PTI 


India invokes treaty with Russia

Moscow, May 19
As war clouds gather over the subcontinent, there are clear indications of India invoking provisions of the 1993 Friendship Treaty and Strategic Partnership Declaration of 2000 with Russia, calling for urgent security consultations between the two countries.

Diplomatic and Russian official sources here confirmed that shortly after the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security in New Delhi yesterday, Indian Ambassador K. Raghunath called on Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov for consultations.

It is believed that Mr Raghunath passed on convincing proof of Pakistan’s direct involvement in last Tuesday’s Jammu attack and shared other sensitive information with Russia.

The Indo-Russian bilateral pacts signed during President Boris Yeltsin’s India visit in January, 1993, and President Vladimir Putin’s New Delhi visit in October, 2000, provide for urgent consultations between both countries in case of a threat to the security of one of the contracting parties and close cooperation in jointly removing this threat.

Though no official confirmation of resorting to these bilateral security mechanisms has been made, Kremlin officials said a security dialogue between Moscow and New Delhi at various levels on core issues of their national security and combating international terrorism was an ongoing process. PTI

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