Tuesday, June 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India lifts ban on Pak flights
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 10
In a move apparent on the intervention of the USA, India today took the first step towards de-escalating the tension along the Indo-Pakistan border by lifting the ban on overflight by Pakistani aircraft.

This was announced by External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao, who was, however, not able to specify whether there was a perceptible fall in the infiltration from across the border.

The Indian move, she said, had come as a result of certain announcements made by Pakistan over the past few days. India was hopeful that there would be some tangible change in the situation.

The ban on Pakistani aeroplanes flying over Indian airspace was imposed on January 1 last as a measure by India following the December 13 terrorist attack on Parliament.

“The government has decided that with effect from today, all restrictions placed since January 1 this year on Pakistani aircraft and Pakistan Airlines to overfly Indian territory, are lifted,” she said.

The spokesperson said during the last few days there had been certain announcements by Pakistan regarding the curbing of infiltration and cross-border terrorism.

“Our response will be in a sequence. We have a menu of options available,” she said.

Stating that the situation was “fluid”, she said the Indian assessment of the situation would continue.

“It is not that we have come to a definite conclusion that there is tangible change but certain changes are taking place”.

Asked about the permission to be required for Pakistani aircraft overflying Indian territory, she said “of course as before, normal procedure for approval involving the Ministries of External Affairs, the Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as appropriate, would apply.”

On Indian aircraft overflying Pakistani airspace, she said “We hope the principle of reciprocity will apply.”

The spokesperson also acknowledged reduction in infiltration from Pakistan of militants across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

Asked whether there had been a perceptible change in cross-border terrorism and infiltration, the External Affairs spokesperson said the Government was taking stock of the ground situation regularly.

“We have reasons to believe that there is some definite tangible change in the situation,” she said, adding that today’s announcement was in response to some concrete promises made by Pakistan.

However, she said this did not indicate any definite trend but “we are engaged in detailed analysis and we will continue to verify and monitor the situation.”


Pak hails decision

Islamabad, June 10
Pakistan welcomed India’s decision today to reopen its airspace to Pakistani planes flying to third countries, but said a lot more needed to be done to ease tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said his government would make a detailed response tomorrow. “This is a step in the desired direction, but a lot more needs to be done,” he said. Reuters


USA plans air monitoring in J&K

London, June 10
The USA is likely to propose the deployment of a helicopter-borne international monitoring force to monitor any infiltration of militants into Kashmir, a report today said here. The proposed plan will be put forth by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during his visit to Islamabad and New Delhi this week, The Times daily reported. PTI

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