M A I N   N E W S

India toughens Pak policy
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 14
India today significantly toughened its Pakistan policy and signaled that it would brook no compromises or delays on the terrorism front. External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, at a late evening function, gave an indication of his government’s “enough-is-enough” attitude towards Pakistan when he expressed concerns on three counts. Without naming Pakistan, Mukherjee said (i) terrorist outfits continued to be nourished and nurtured by Pakistan, (ii) voiced Indian fears of Pakistani nukes falling into the hands of radical Islamists or jihadis, and (iii) expressed concern on the latest instability in Pakistan triggered by the groundswell of support for the sacked Pak CJ.

Earlier, the PM said the dialogue with Pakistan could make no meaningful progress unless Islamabad lived up to its January 2004 commitment of checking terrorism. In reply to Leader of Opposition L K Advani’s letter seeking a statement that there would be no demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir and that troop deployment would not be part of bilateral negotiations, the Prime Minister said New Delhi was prepared to explore creative and cooperative solutions that could bring long-lasting peace and amity between the two countries.

Advani had asked several specific questions in his letter to the Prime Minister yesterday, one of them seeking an undertaking that there would be no demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir and that troop deployment would not be part of bilateral negotiations. To this the Prime Minister replied that his government did not believe in conducting diplomacy in public. The Manmohan Singh government has upped its ante after three specific developments with regard to Pakistan: (i) Pakistan telling India point blank that it would not agree to inclusion of Jammu and Kashmir within the ambit of JTM as it looked at terrorism in J&K as an “home-grown movement for independence”; (ii) New York Time’s report a few days ago that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was no longer indispensable to Washington and a Plan B was in place in the event of Musharraf’s exit from the scene, and (iii) the growing opposition to Musharraf’s sacking of the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

In a clear show of belligerence, Pranab Mukherjee tonight launched scathing attacks on Pakistan in his address at the 42nd professional course for foreign diplomats.

Here is what Mukherjee said: “Our foremost priority is continuing terrorism. While terrorism is perpetrated by non-state actors in most parts of the world, in India, militants and terrorists are also sponsored and aided by agencies from across India’s borders”.

“Secondly, India finds itself in an arc where more than one actor has been involved in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This has assumed particularly dangerous proportions given the possibility of linkages between such proliferation and terrorists”.

“Thirdly, the periodic instability in the political fabric of states in India’s neighbourhood is a source of great anxiety as an advocate of greater regional integration and connectivity, India has stakes in the political and economic well-being of its neighbourhood...”



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