Thursday, June 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

India ready for joint patrolling on LoC: PM

Almaty, June 5
In a significant development, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said that India was ready for joint patrolling on the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan but ruled out de-escalation on the borders until Islamabad stopped cross-border terrorism.

Mr Vajpayee, a few hours before emplaning for Delhi after a four-day visit to Kazakhstan, said India would accept Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s proposal for joint patrolling along the LoC but New Delhi did not think it necessary to involve a third country to verify that infiltration had stopped as claimed by the General.

Mr Vajpayee said India and Pakistan had earlier (in 1989) accepted the proposal of joint patrolling. Both countries can agree for it once again.

“Infiltration from India is out of question. Insurgents are coming from Pakistan. If they are serious about stopping it, India is ready for joint patrolling to stop infiltration.”

“Musharraf Sahib has said there is no infiltration. Our information is that infiltration is continuing and there are terrorist training camps across the border,’’ Mr Vajpayee said.

“It is reported that there are 3,000 infiltrators ready to sneak in. We have been emphasising that words are not enough from Pakistan on the issue of infiltration. Verification has to be made on the ground,’’ Mr Vajpayee said at a press briefing at Hotel Ankara where he was staying.

The Prime Minister said de-escalation would be the last issue to be dealt with. India was ready to consider further steps towards de-escalation on the borders once infiltration ended, the terrorist training camps were closed and verification was made of Pakistan’s claims.

The Prime Minister’s statement on joint patrolling assumes significance in the background of charges being traded by the two countries.

Official sources said the issue of joint patrolling had been mooted in the draft of the Simla Agreement but the then Pakistan President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto got the clause removed. Later in 1989, during the V.P. Singh government the proposal was agreed to but not implemented due to various reasons.

He said Pakistan’s claim would have to be tested. India had got the world’s support on the infiltration issue. On no other issue has there been such international support for India. “Usko daave ke kasauti pe kasna hai’’ (Pakistan has to prove its claim).

Mr Vajpayee said India was ready to consider any list given by Pakistan of terrorists or criminals. His assurance came as a reaction to General Musharraf’s comments yesterday at a press conference here that if India could give a list of 20 criminals and terrorists, Pakistan could come up with 40 names.

“Musharraf Sahib did not tell us (about the list of 40) nor did he tell Russian President Vladimir Putin. He, however, told Mr Putin that if there is a list (given by India), Pakistan will consider extradition of terrorists and criminals to India.”

The Prime Minister said Pakistan was under tremendous international pressure to stop cross-border terrorism and certain countries were even thinking about stopping aid to Islamabad.

Mr Vajpayee said because of the border build-up, there was pressure on the Indian economy, but fortunately, now the economy was looking up and showing signs of revival.

India wanted the situation on the border to improve and the clouds of war to disappear so that economic progress could be achieved.

The Prime Minister ruled out third party mediation to resolve the India-Pakistan crisis. “We do not think it necessary. India and Pakistan can find a way out themselves.”

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said on Wednesday that Pakistan’s rejection of his suggestion for joint patrolling on the Line of Control (LoC) showed that Islamabad did not want verification of its claims that infiltration and cross-border terrorism had stopped.

The Prime Minister was speaking to reporters at the airport on his return from Almaty.

Mr Vajpayee said his suggestion of joint patrolling on the LoC was one of the ways of verifying Pakistani claims. “Let us see what is their reaction.’’ On being told that Pakistan had already rejected his suggestion, the Prime Minister quipped “in that case, they don’t want verification of their claims.’’

Earlier, reacting to Mr Vajpayee’s proposal, Pakistan has said it was “unlikely to work’’. 

“The proposal is not new... Given the state of Pakistan-India relations, mechanisms for joint patrolling are unlikely to work,’’ Foreign Office Spokesperson Aziz Ahmad Khan said in Islamabad. UNI


Pakistan rejects India’s proposal

Islamabad, June 5
Pakistan today rejected an Indian proposal for joint patrols along the Kashmir border to stem the infiltration of militants, saying that it was nothing new and “unlikely to work’’.

“The proposal is not new,’’ a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. “Given the state of Pakistan-India relations, mechanisms for joint patrolling are unlikely to work,’’ it said.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told a news conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan, that India could consider joint patrols along the Kashmir frontier if Pakistan stopped cross-border infiltrations by Pakistani-based militants.

“If Pakistan decides that it will not support infiltration, then both countries can work on a mechanism for joint patrolling,’’ he said.

Mr Vajpayee’s statement initially lifted hopes that the two sides might be stepping back from the brink of war. Shares on the Karachi Stock Exchange rose on the news.

“At least there is no talk of war anymore, instead they are talking about options to reduce tensions,’’ said a dealer at Al-Maal Securities in Karachi.

The Pakistani statement said the rival armies were already patrolling their respective sides of the Line of Control (LoC). “Pakistan has also expressed its willingness to accept neutral monitoring of the LoC,’’ the statement added.

India has ruled out third-party monitoring of the border, as it has long tried to prevent an “internationalisation’’ of what it considers to be a bilateral dispute.

Mr Vajpayee told the Almaty press conference that deploying neutral monitors was also an impractical idea. “The region is mountainous, terrain inaccessible and for a third country to come to verify (the situation) is neither practical nor necessary,’’ he said.

For its part, Pakistan maintains there is no infiltration across the LoC and has called for independent observers, such as UN monitors, to be allowed to verify this. Reuters


Fernandes differs with PM on joint patrolling

Bangalore, June 5
Taking a different line on the joint patrolling of the Line of Control as suggested by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at Almaty, Defence Minister George Fernandes said today that there was no possibility of joint patrolling with Pakistan to check infiltration from across the border.

“There is no such likelihood,” he told newspersons here. Asked about Mr Vajpayee’s comment on the matter this morning, Mr Fernandes said, “I don’t know in what context he said. I have to talk to him.” UNI


Ease tension, Bush asks Vajpayee, Pervez

Washington, June 5
The US President, Mr George W. Bush, today called up Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and asked them to “choose the path of diplomacy.”

Mr Bush “telephoned the leaders of India and Pakistan, urging them to take steps that will ease tension in the region and reduce the risk of war,” Mr Bush’s spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

In his conversation with Mr Vajpayee, Mr Bush stressed “the need for India to respond with de-escalatory steps,” said Mr Fleischer.

In his telephonic talk with General Musharraf, Mr Bush reiterated “that the USA expects Pakistan to live up to the commitment it has made to end all support for terrorism,” said the spokesman.

To both leaders, the President stressed the need to “choose the path of diplomacy,” he said. AFP

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