M A I N   N E W S

PM briefed on J&K situation 
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
Even as India and Pakistan took a step forward in the peace talks by announcing various Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) here, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was for the first time briefed about the prevailing ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir here today.

A crucial Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting was held in the Operations Room of Army headquarters here, where not only did External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh give a detailed presentations about the peace talks with Pakistan stretched over the past two days, but the Army also gave a presentation about the prevailing situation in the militancy prone state.

The CCS meeting also came in the backdrop of the first visit of Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to the forward areas of the J&K from tomorrow. Not only will the Defence Minister be visiting the Command Headquarters at Udhampur for detailed on-hands briefing but will also be flying over the forward post along the Line of Control (LoC).

He will also take stock of the progress being made in the fencing along the LoC.

Sources in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the CCS was convened in view of the talks and the CBMs announced by both India and Pakistan. The Prime Minister was also briefed about the CBMs which are in the pipeline.

With both India and Pakistan seeking permanent peace along the borders, the briefing about the prevailing situation in J&K was crucial for the Indian establishment in view of the further talks.

The Army briefed the Prime Minister about its assessment of the prevailing situation in J&K. This specially as there has been a sudden spurt in terrorist activities in the trouble-torn state which has also been viewed as an attempt to derail the Indo-Pak peace talks.

The Chief of Army staff Gen. N.C. Vij, briefed the Prime Minister on the ground situation in J and K and along the Sino-Indian border with the help of the maps and models. This included progress made on the fencing front, state of infiltration in J&K and militant related activities in the state.

The over 75-minute meeting was also attended by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, besides Mr Natwar Singh.

Sources said the Prime Minister was briefed in regard to the forthcoming talks between Pakistan and the All-Party Hurriyat Conference leaders which is slated for early July. Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq is scheduled to visit Pakistan for talks.

Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan was asked a question on this issue at his Press conference in the Pakistan High Commission earlier in the day and he welcomed the proposed visit.

MEA spokesman Navtej Sarna when asked for the Government of India’s reaction on Umer Farooq’s visit to Pakistan, merely quipped that GOI was a very wide body and he was not the spokesperson for the entire establishment.

The Prime Minister is also understood to have been briefed about the ongoing armed forces’ modernisation drive and defence acquisition plans.

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