Thursday, May 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

US to put pressure on Pak
End to terror a political necessity: Sinha

Moscow, May 14
Asserting that the US pressure on Islamabad to end cross-border terrorism was “not reassuring on the ground”, India today made it clear that an end to violence and dismantling of terrorist infrastructure by Pakistan “is a practical necessity” for improving ties.

During the hour-long meeting here with External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, US Secretary of State Colin Powell assured him that Washington would continue to stress upon Pakistan the need to take action on cross-border terrorist activities.

Sinha later told Indian media that he emphasised the need to put an end to cross-border terrorism against India and dismantling of terrorist infrastructure “before confidence-building measures could develop”.

Indian officials said it was clear from the conversation that the USA “accepts the validity” of New Delhi’s step-by-step approach to the entire peace process.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the amount and level of pressure the US was mounting on Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism against India, Sinha said “We don’t have a barometer to gauge this. However, in some way the words conveyed to us (by the US) are very reassuring, but the effect on the ground is not very reassuring.”

Sinha stressed upon the fundamental importance of ensuring that the process of re-engagement with Pakistan “is not disrupted by terrorist attacks and that an end to cross-border terrorism by Pakistan is a practical necessity,” the officials said.

Sinha told Powell that the key to normalisation of Indo-Pak relations and a bilateral summit would remain a remote possibility till a conducive climate is generated by Pakistan.

Both Sinha and Powell are on bilateral visits in the Russian capital.

“Powell briefed me about his contacts with President (Pervez) Musharraf and others in the Pakistani establishment and shared the opinion about ending cross-border terrorism against India,” Sinha said.

The Minister explained the rationale behind Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s peace initiatives and the step-by-step approach initiated by India.

“In a step-by-step approach various issues should be decided at various levels. A time will come when talks could begin between foreign offices of the two countries. But the summit is far away and it will come right at the end, when all issues are sorted out at other levels, “ Sinha said.

Sinha ruled out any third party mediation be it the US or Russia or both jointly in resolving Indo-Pak issues.

Specifically noting Russia’s “unstinted support” for India on cross-border terrorism, Sinha said that in spite of often talk of a US role in resolving the Indo-Pak standoff, Powell did not make any such suggestion during the meeting.

“Our conversation was in a very cordial atmosphere and we had full understanding,” Sinha said.

Sinha said that during the meeting the draft resolution initiated by the US and Britain for lifting of UN sanctions on Iraq was discussed.

He ruled out dispatching any military contingent to Iraq or Indian participation in a post-war reconstruction outside the UN umbrella.


Mishra to brief PM tomorrow
Our Correspondent and PTI

Manali, May 14
Even as Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is in the midst of a summer retreat with members of his family here, official work does not leave him altogether.

He will receive a briefing from National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra on Friday on his recent talks with US President George W. Bush, his National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in London.

Mr Vajpayee will clear some “urgent files” even as he enjoys the six-day holiday with his family, confined to the cottage overlooking forests dotting the mountains in the Prini area of Manali.

The Prime Minister cleared some important files today. He took a morning walk and an evening walk in the lawn of his farmhouse. He has also brought a set of books for reading during his stay here. He is unlikely to travel out, especially to the market areas.

According to officials, Mr Vajpayee has no scheduled public engagements here although a dinner in his honour, to be hosted by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, may be on the cards. A number of requests for a meeting have come from local residents and panchayat leaders. No decision has been taken yet on these.


Kashmir policy same, says Jamali

Islamabad, May 14
Prime Minister Mir Zafaruallah Khan Jamali today denied that there was any change in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy in the light of the recent peace initiatives by India and Pakistan, and said his government would continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris’ fight for self determination.

Mr Jamali told a delegation of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference leaders that Kashmir issue “derived legitimacy from the UN resolutions and Kashmiris’ sacrifices.”

His comments came in the wake of speculation in the media here that Pakistan was prepared to freeze the Kashmir issue in order to improve bilateral ties with India on the trade and other fronts. Significantly, Mr Jamali also referred to the improvement of trade and economic relations with India in his address to the Pakistan Development Forum here yesterday. PTI


Pak to free 20 Indians on May 17

Islamabad, May 14
Setting the process of releasing Indian prisoners in motion, Pakistan has said it will free 20 of them, including six Sikhs, on Saturday at Wagah border point in Punjab.

“In pursuance of the decision taken by Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali’s on May 6, Pakistan has decided to release 14 crew members of the Indian cargo boat ‘Raj Laxhmi’ as well as six Sikh youths whose national status has been confirmed by the Indian government,” an official statement said here late last night.

It said that 16 other Sikhs will be released shortly after their national status is verified by the Indian government.

The 20 prisoners would be handed over to Indian authorities at Wagah on Saturday, May 17, the statement said, adding the decision had already been conveyed to the Indian Government.

Rest of over 300 Indian prisoners, including 16 Sikhs, would be released after verification process by India. PTI


Pak bars Azhar from entering PoK

Muzaffarabad, May 14
Pakistan has barred Masood Azhar, leader of the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammed, blamed for masterminding the attack on Indian Parliament, from entering the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, an official said today.

Azhar, who was released by India to secure the release of more than 100 passengers of an Indian Airlines plane hijacked to Kandahar in 1999, was scheduled to speak tomorrow at a religious gathering in Kotli, 200 km south of Muzaffarabad, the capital of the PoK, senior security official Mohammed Nawaz Khan said.

“We have banned his entry into (Pakistan-occupied) Kashmir,” he said. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf outlawed the Jaish-e-Mohammed, after the December 13, 2001, attack on India’s Parliament, which killed 14 persons. AP

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