Tuesday, May 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

George rushes to Rajasthan
To assess war preparedness
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 20
Taking into account the severe heatwave conditions sweeping through the North India, Defence Minister George Fernandes has airdashed to forward locations in Rajasthan with a view to make an on-the-spot assessment of the troops’ preparedness to launch a possible offensive against Pakistan.

He is being accompanied by the Chief of Army Staff, Gen S. Padmanabhan, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, as both the Army and the Air Force will be the key elements for an assault from the Rajasthan sector. Mr Fernandes and the two service chiefs would be visiting the Army and the Air Force field formations in the Ganganagar-Bikaner sector and return tomorrow afternoon.

The Defence Minister is expected to brief Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on the country’s war-preparedness in the sector immediately after his return. Both Prime Minister and the Defence Minister would be flying off to Jammu and Kashmir tomorrow evening to make assessment there. Armed with the overall assessment of the country’s Army and the Air Force, the Prime Minister is also scheduled to brief the commanders of the Unified Command in Srinagar during his visit to the state. He is also expected to visit the forward areas of Kupwara and Baramulla.

The government, having placed the paramilitary forces along the border and the Line of Control (LoC) under the operational command of the Army and the Coast Guard under the Navy yesterday, an assessment in the Rajasthan sector is essential, keeping in mind the sweltering conditions, sources said.

Incidentally, both Army and the Air Force had been carrying out various exercises along the Rajasthan sector over the past few days and Defence Minister hoped to make an assessment while they were still underway, the sources said.

Yesterday’s decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is a clear signal of placing all key military elements in place for a possible offensive. However, Rajasthan being a key sector, where some of the key strike corps are also deployed.


Vajpayee’s 3-day visit to J&K from today

New Delhi, May 20
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will pay a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir from tomorrow during which he will visit to some of the forward areas in the valley.

Mr Vajpayee will leave for Jammu in the afternoon and visit hospitals where injured of the Kaluchak attack have been admitted. Next day the Prime Minister will go to Srinagar where he is expected to address a meeting of the Unified Headquarters. Home Minister L.K. Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes are likely to accompany him on the trip.

The Prime Minister has stated that the government was committed to holding Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

In the wake of the Kaluchak massacre, Mr Vajpayee has decided to curtail his holiday in Manali. UNI


India to sensitise world on Pak’s role
Tribune News Service

Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh (L) meets his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi
Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh (L) meets his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi in New Delhi on Monday. Kharazi, on a two-day visit, is expected to boost Iran's ties with India and to discuss the rising tension between India and Pakistan, according to media reports. — Reuters photo

Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi with US ambassador Robert D Blackwill
Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi with US Ambassador Robert D Blackwill at Parliament House in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, May 20
India would soon intensify diplomatic offensive against Pakistan and sensitise the world community on Islamabad’s crossborder terrorism.

“Our very legitimate concerns on crossborder terrorism and the pains inflicted on us for far too long over this issue for Pakistan will be conveyed to the world,” Ms Nirupama Rao, Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, said here today.

Asked a pointed question whether India would lobby with the world community to pressure the United Nations to invoke UN Resolution 1373, the spokesperson declined to divulge the diplomatic strategy of New Delhi. She also refused to give a pointed answer to a query whether India would welcome or oppose the reported move of Pakistan to move the United Nations for intervention and help de-escalate the Indo-Pak military standoff.

Ms Rao made it clear that there was no let up in Pakistan-sponsored crossborder terrorism aimed at India and the level of infiltration of terrorists remained an all time high.

To another question on the government’s reaction to European Parliament’s resolution on Gujarat carnage, the spokesperson took a cautious and soft stand as compared to the MEA’s aggressive approach just a few weeks back. She described Gujarat as an internal affair of the country, but refrained from criticising the foreign governments for raking up the Gujarat issue.



Hurriyat for dialogue, not war, with Pak
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, May 20
Claiming that the Kashmir issue was a threat to peace in South Asia, Hurriyat Conference leaders here today equivocally favoured a process of dialogue and not war to ease the tension between India and Pakistan.

“We do not want that war takes place. We want peace in South Asia, which can be maintained only when the Kashmir issue is resolved”, declared Mr Abdul Ghani Bhat, Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference here today. Mr Bhat and other senior separatist leaders participated in a day-long seminar on “Kashmir issue and peace in South Asia” held in connection with the twelfth death anniversary of former Mirwaiz (chief priest) of Kashmir Moulvi Mohammad Farooq.

More than 15 prominent leaders spoke on the occasion, the highlights of which revolved round the resolution of the Kashmir issue and refraining India and Pakistan from resorting to a war. Tributes were paid of the founder leader of the Awami Action Committee, who fell to the bullets of unidentified militants on May 21 in 1990 at his Nageen residence here. The seminar was part of the week-long programme in connection with the death anniversary of Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq, father of the former APHC Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

In his address Abdul Ghani Bhat said the Hurriyat Conference was ready for unconditional talks with the central leadership. He, however, put the conditions that these talks will be held “only when India agrees to involve Pakistan”. He reiterated the APHC stand that Kashmiris were the principal party to the dispute.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s proposed visit to Jammu and Kashmir this week, Mr Bhat said “political and economic packages and shortcuts like the electoral process” would not lead to any conclusions. “We shall have to address the core issue”, he pointed out.

While the former APHC Chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for a boycott of the coming Assembly elections Mr Bhat questioned as to “why should we talks of elections”. He reiterated the demand for the grant of right to self determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The former Hurriyat Conference Chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani expressed concern over the “rigid and unrealistic approach of India’ which came in the way of the resolution of the Kashmir issue. “We have no enmity with India or its people but it creates hurdles in the way of peace”, Geelani said. Back


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