Saturday, June 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

India to wait & watch
Pak must translate words into action, USA told
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 7
Positive signals emanated during the course of talks the visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had with the top Indian leadership today, raising the hopes of easing of Indo-Pak tensions in the next 10 or 15 days.

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage speaks to Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (L) speaks to Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at Prime Minister's residence in New Delhi on Friday. — Reuters photo

Mr Armitage came here from Islamabad with specific assurances from President Pervez Musharraf that he would take concrete steps to end cross-border infiltration, something which India welcomes but at the same time takes this assurance with a pinch of salt.

The Indian reaction to Gen Musharraf’s assurance, as conveyed to the Indian leadership by Mr Armitage, is that of caution. New Delhi would like to see two things — first, Pakistan puts a complete stop to cross-border infiltration and terrorism and dismantles the terrorism infrastructure existing on its territory, and secondly, Pakistan ensures that this process is permanent and irreversible.

Well placed sources here disclosed that India, in turn, has also given an assurance to the USA that it would wait for a reasonable period of time to allow Pakistan translate its promises into reality and would not precipitate the situation from its side during this period. India would be basing its response on the ground situation in the coming few days during which it would closely monitor cross-border infiltration and terrorism activities.

Mr Armitage, who arrived here in the morning from Islamabad, met External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh (who hosted a lunch for Mr Armitage), Principal Secretary to PM Brajesh Mishra, Union Home Minister L K Advani and Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi. The culmination of Mr Armitage’s visit was his meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in the evening.

An important point which sources emphasised was that if Gen Musharraf were to deliver on his promises, it would not mean India going for a military de-escalation immediately. A military de-escalation is not, and cannot be, a quid pro quo and India would have to see over a period of time if Pakistan indeed keeps its promises, sources said.

Another significant feature of the talks Mr Armitage had with the Indian leadership today was India’s rejection of the British-American proposal for an Anglo-American force of 500 men for patrolling of the Line of Control.

Sources pointed out the following reasons for the rejection:

* This would amount to internationalising the Kashmir issue and accepting third party mediation which New Delhi has been stoutly opposed to.

* None other than Indians and Pakistanis know the LoC better and foreigners, particularly Westerners, would be completely at sea in this region.

* Manning of the LoC by 500 Anglo-American observers would be meaningless because this number, or any number for that matter, would be grossly inadequate for the purpose they would be drafted. This number would be like a grain of sand in a desert.

* Engaging Anglo-American observers to man the LoC would be detrimental to India’s long-term security because once the Western troops are engaged somewhere it is extremely difficult to disengage them.

Sources said India was not game for an Anglo-American force on the LoC even on the Pakistani side because India regards Pakistan Occupied Kashmir also as its territory.


Tension has eased, says Armitage
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 7
US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage today virtually ruled out monitoring of the Indo-Pak border by an American-British military force.

Talking to mediapersons at the end of his day-long parleys with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and other Indian leaders, he said Washington shared India’s view that cross-border terrorism from Pakistan must come to an end and Islamabad must take “concrete and visible steps’’ in this regard.

Coming from his meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr Armitage said he was happy that tension had come down a “little bit”.

On reports about a proposal for joint monitoring by an American-British force of the Indo-Pak border, he said, “It seems a bit far-fetched to patrol the high altitudes of the Himalayas”.

Mr Armitage admitted that there had been discussions with the Indian leaders on the “possibilities and modalities’’ of monitoring the LoC, but hastened to add that no decision in this regard had been taken yet.

To a question about feeling that the Bush administration had not put sufficient pressure on Pakistan to check terrorism like it did in the case of the Taliban in Afghanistan, he said “if that is the feeling, I am sorry.”

Mr Armitage said he had briefed the Indian leaders on his discussions with Gen Musharraf in Islamabad yesterday. President Musharraf had told him that ceasing infiltration across the LoC needed to be an action that was permanent.


Rumsfeld reschedules visit
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 7
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has delayed his visit to the subcontinent and will be arriving here on the night of June 11. He will be meeting top Indian leadership the next day, sources said.

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