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Pakistan still abetting terrorism in valley: Pranab
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
The Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, today accused Pakistan of adopting “double standard” on terrorism and blamed it for helping terrorists in infiltrating in the Kashmir valley.

Delivering the Dr V.N. Tewari Memorial Oration on “Peace Perspectives in South and South East Asia: Changes and Opportunities” at Panjab University, Mr Mukherjee said that while on one hand Pakistan talked of its fight against terrorism, on the other hand it was abetting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan is still intact despite the recent thaw in Indo-Pak ties. ISI-sponsored infiltration attempts are still going on and terrorists are being given special training to negotiate the border force. Though infiltration into the Kashmir valley has decreased in the last four months due to vigil by Indian forces, a large number of terrorists are sitting on a launching pad on the other side to cross the border,” Mr Mukherjee said.

He said that after the USA announced its decision of giving 70 F-16 aircraft to Pakistan, India needed to upgrade its military resources, which should not mean that India believed in arms race. “We do not have any territorial ambitions but we need to safeguard our own territory,” emphasised the Defence Minister.

Sharing a “forward looking vision for economic cooperation’’, the Defence Minister said that while Sri Lanka had shown that vision, Pakistan was holding back on beneficial economic regionalism citing the importance of settling the question of Jammu and Kashmir first.

Mr Mukherjee stressed on the need for peace and development in the sub-continent and said that despite the recent militant attack on the Srinagar Tourist Reception Centre, the resolve of both governments to commence the bus service between the Muzaffarabad and Srinagar reflected the strong determination for peace.

“The growing momentum of people to people contacts between India and Pakistan reinforces the point that peace need not always be seen in the context of war,’’ said Mr Mukherjee, and added that the 12th SAARC summit had opened the doors for thinking about trans-border energy cooperation and even bolder concepts such as common currency.

Pointing out India’s relations with the major powers in the world, the Defence Minister said that while relations with the USA were moving towards greater cooperation on strategic and security issues, economic relations with China were now on a much larger scale. “Defence relations with Russia retain their strategic character even as the efforts are being made to reinvigorate the economic relationship,” he added.


India to release 156 Pak fishermen
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 14
The UPA government will release 156 Pakistani fishermen on April 19, a day after Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf completes his three-day informal visit to India.

While the General is here, during his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, India will propose a slew of Kashmir-specific Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) with the primary objective of throwing open the two Kashmirs for greater people-to-people contacts and trade.

Barely two days before his arrival here, Islamabad was today informed of New Delhi’s decision to release 156 Pakistani fishermen on April 19. The Government of India would have preferred to release the Pakistani fishermen while Gen Musharraf is here but logistics seem to have put paid to these plans. The to-be-released fishermen are in Gujarat. They will be sent to Pakistan through the Wagah border.

The Ministry of External Affairs is finetuning a host of Kashmir-centric CBMs which will be put before Gen Musharraf. These include running inter-Kashmir bus services between Kargil and Skardu, Mendher and Kotli, Jammu and Sialkot and Poonch and Mirpur.


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