M A I N   N E W S

India, Pak must fight terror jointly: PM
Ready for talks with any group that shuns guns
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Virtually setting the agenda for Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf’s visit here, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that India and Pakistan can work together in protecting the lives of innocent people and in fighting the sources of terrorism in the region.

The Prime Minister also asserted that it is the joint responsibility of India and Pakistan as also the local authorities on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) to ensure full security cover to passengers of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service.

“I hope we (India and Pakistan) can work together in protecting the lives of innocent people and in fighting the sources of terrorism in the region,” Dr Manmohan Singh said while addressing the Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security here at Vigyan Bhavan.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said that the Prime Minister’s statement should be read in line with New Delhi’s agenda for ensuring “soft border” along the LoC.

“The interlocutors of Pakistan and India are already engaged in exchanging each others view on this issue,” sources said.

Dr Manmohan Singh, who dwelt at length on cross-border infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir, insurgency problem in the North-East and also threat posed by Naxalism in several states, said “notwithstanding the recent dastardly attempt to disturb the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad by terrorists, the people of Jammu and Kashmir came out on the streets as one to welcome this gesture of reconciliation”.

“I hope the terrorists and extremists in the region have grasped the mood of the people and will not try to disrupt this bus service again,” he said, adding “I believe that it is the joint responsibility of Governments of India and Pakistan and of the local authorities on both sides of the line of control to work together in providing full security cover to the bus service.”

In another significant assertion, the Prime Minister said the Centre is willing to conduct an “honest and meaningful” dialogue with any group that shuns violence and is ready to engage in talks.

“Violence and the use of force cannot win the rewards that insurgents and extremists seek. Our government will deal firmly with insurgency...However, we are willing to conduct an honest and meaningful dialogue with any group that abjures the path of violence and is willing to engage in a dialogue,” he said.

He said the challenge of terrorism must be faced squarely and resolutely by all shades of political opinion. “There can be no political compromise with terror”.

Observing that internal security “is our biggest national security challenge”, he asked the Chief Ministers to function on a war-footing and pay the highest attention in dealing with this.

The Prime Minister said he firmly believed that those at the helm of affairs should take “critical decisions” to create congenial atmosphere and work together to reshape the destiny and international environment for India’s development that has never been as favourable as it is now.

Citing challenges to internal security like extremism, insurgency, terrorism, violence and atrocities against women, SCs and STs, he asked the Chief Ministers to recognise these facets and develop policies designed to address them.

Emphasising that security forces were duty bound to deal with crime and law and order problems within the framework of clearly spelt-out laws, he said insurgency and extremism on the other hand, had “political dimensions that often require political management of a security situation”.

Observing that crimes against weaker sections of society still persisted, Dr Manmohan Singh said this calls for a serious introspection and a comprehensive review of strategies adopted so far. Both the Centre and State governments need to collaborate in this.

Noting that the levels of terrorist violence and infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir and insurgency problem in the North-Eastern states have been significantly lower than before, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said “the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the North-East and states having Naxal-affected areas cannot be seen in isolation.”

“External dimensions of terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir and North-Eastern States and links of Indian Naxal groups with CPN (Maoists) in Nepal have to be taken into account while devising a counter strategy,” Mr Patil told the conference.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the deployment of armed forces for internal security should be minimised and they should be used on “rarest of rare occasion”.

“Otherwise, it (their deployment for internal security) will undermine their training to meet the challenges of a real war,” Mr Mukherjee said.



Security gets cracking for Pervez visit
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
The security agencies today took control of vital installations, including the place of stay and venues for the high profile visit of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s three-day stay here.

A large number of police personnel, including those in plainclothes, have swarmed Ferozeshah Kotla, venue of the April 17 Indo-Pak one-day cricket match to be jointly watched by General Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Security has also been tightened at Taj Hotel where the Pakistan President will stay along with his delegation and it has been made out of bounds for mediapersons.

The security agencies have started sanitising the cricket ground and the hotel and anti-sabotage checks to detect any explosives have been initiated at these places.

General Musharraf will stay in a suite on the ninth floor of the hotel where 70 rooms have been booked for his entourage. Though security in the hotel in the form of plain clothes security personnel is very tight, it has been kept unobtrusive for guests. Snipers and commando units will take up positions on the rooftop and roads leading to the hotel may be sealed, police sources said. Inside the hotel, the staff are busy in preparations to make the President’s visit memorable.

Chefs, who have done considerable research to find out about General Musharraf’s preferences, said a variety of kebabs, kormas and breads will be spread out for the special guests.


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