Wednesday, May 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

George meets Service chiefs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 28
Defence Minister George Fernandes today reflected the predicament that India was facing when he described the India-Pakistan border standoff as “serious” and that nothing could be predicted as to what would happen, although the country was on the verge of a confrontation.

After taking stock of the prevailing state of preparedness of the armed forces at a two-hour meeting with the three Services Chiefs, Mr Fernandes said, “we are on the verge of a confrontation...but that does not necessarily mean an all-out war...though the options before us are narrowing down”.

However, as has been the practice with all ministers of the Vajpayee-government, Mr Fernandes also chose to follow the Prime Minister. He was not forthcoming on what strategy India was likely to follow in its bid to counter the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.

Mr Fernandes was speaking after flagging off the NCC Boys Mountaineering expedition to Bandarpunch Peak II.

Earlier, he met the three Services chiefs to review the situation on the border.

The meeting also took stock of the defence preparedness of the armed forces in view of Pakistani forces resorting to unprovoked firing on Indian targets along the border in the past few days.

Besides the Chief of Army Staff, Gen S. Padmanabhan, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnawswamy, and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Madhvendra Singh, Defence Secretary Yogendra Narain also attended the meeting.

Earlier, Mr Fernandes, in an interview to “Star News”, dismissed as false General Musharraf’s statement last night that no infiltration was taking place.

Mr Fernandes said militants in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Al-Qaida and Taliban elements were waiting to cross over to India to strike terror.


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