June 1998 News

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LoC Unacceptable as Border: India

29th June 1998

Confusion over Jaswant's statement dispelled

India today ruled out the possibility of the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan being converted into a international boundary.

This was stated by the official spokesman in the external affairs ministry in response to queries on the controversy over Planning Commission Jaswant Singh`s reported remarks to a private TV channel on the issue of the possible acceptance of the LoC as the international boundary.

"India`s position on the LOC is the traditional stand" said the spokesman adding "J&K is an integral part of India."

He later clarified that this was on the basis of the geographic existence of the state on August 15, 1947, which included Pakistan- Occupied Kashmir (POK).

Asked if India would consider the possibility of the LoC as a boundary, the spokesman observed: "I do not want to specifically comment on that, as these are negotiating positions."

He further stated that it would be wrong to assume possible negotiating positions as it might be unacceptable to "both sides."

"India and Pakistan are committed under the Shimla agreement to resolve all issues bilaterally, but the proxy war in Kashmir is clearly against the agreement" said the spokesman.

AUTHENTIC: Answering a query on whether the statement on TV of Brajesh Mishra, principal secretary to the prime minister, could be taken as the official position, the spokesman said: "Yes, what he said could be treated as the official position."

Mr Mishra had said that India would take up with Pakistan the question of getting back POK.

The meeting of the two prime ministers in Colombo will be without an agenda. The spokesman said what the two will talk about, will determine the direction and content of talks between India and Pakistan. "The direction of the dialogue will be determined by the two prime ministers," he said adding the discussion between the two leaders could be followed by official-level talks.

REFUTED: Meanwhile, Home TV today maintained that Mr Jaswant Singh in an interview to it had said India was prepared to discuss with Pakistan, conversion of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir into the "final border" between the two countries.

In a press release issued here, the TV channel said that just after Mr Singh explained in the programme "In Focus with Karan" for telecast today that map-making must come to a stop in the sub- continent he was asked whether India would accept the "Line of Occupation" as the "final border."

After indicating that this was a complicated question which could not have a sound byte answer, the discussion went on as follows:

Jaswant Singh: "I have said, the Government has said, let us talk and let us talk about Kashmir."

Karan Thapar: And this issue that I have touched now upon could be part of the agenda?"

Jaswant Singh: This issue can be part of the agenda only if it is raised by somebody. India is not going to raise it."

He had also added: "We are prepared to talk about any aspect of Kashmir, but Pakistan has to be prepared to talk."

The transcript should make it clear that Mr Singh was not misquoted in its press release "nor was he made out to have said something other than what was said" the Home TV release said.

Mr Jaswant Singh in a release on Sunday refuted he had suggested conversion of the LOC into the boundary. "At no stage have I said this nor have I implied so."

What Mr Jaswant Singh claims to have said on TV was "We have to recognise that map-making has to come to a stop in the sub-continent. If you are talking about a kind of cartographic, constant altering of South Asian situation, that cannot take place. That is a reality."

The other thing that was talked about was a working group on Kashmir.

Mr Jaswant Singh claims that to this he responded that this "remains a somewhat of a grey, contentious area. There are assertions of one kind from one side and assertions of another kind from another side."

Mr Singh, therefore, sought to state that "interpretations given on my TV interview are therefore, completely erroneous and entirely the responsibility of others."


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