August 1999 News

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Stop terrorism first, says India

3 August 1999
Economic Times

NEW DELHI: India today asked Pakistan to "repair the damage" it has done to the Lahore process, by taking "tangible steps" to cease terrorism across the line of control (LOC) in Jammu & Kashmir. "The onus is now on Pakistan," said the spokesman of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) today.

The statement not only signals a crystallisation of the Indian position, it is a response to the repeated Pakistan calls for India to resume dialogue. In the past few days, the Pakistan prime minister, foreign minister and the foreign secretary have all issued statements calling on India to talk. In fact, after his return from Finland, Mr. Sartaj Aziz accused India of insincerity while calling for dialogue. India's statement today is a "categoric reminder" of the Indian position.

Although India hesitates to mention it in quite those terms, the cessation of cross-border terrorism is being held out as pre-requisite for resumption of dialogue with Pakistan. In the pre-Kargil days, India was willing to discuss terrorism with Pakistan, as it is one of the 8 items on the agenda.

But as the spokesman said, the dynamics of the bilateral relationship has changed in the post-Kargil phase. "It was betrayal of trust which has done great damage to the Lahore process.

The aggression in Kargil, as also the sponsorship of terrorism make clear the lack of sincerity of the Pakistani authorities in the matter of dialogue." The MEA says it is only the cessation of terrorist activity that will help to "create a conducive atmosphere" for dialogue.

When questioned, the spokesman said it was not enough for Pakistan to merely state a reaffirmation of the LOC. Like the Kargil withdrawal, the "steps" India wants it to take in Kashmir will have to be "monitored" and verified by India, external affairs ministry sources said.

According to the Indian government, the loss of lives in Kargil and the whole atmosphere of the intrusion had soured Indian minds and it would take a while before emotions cooled down.

Moreover, there had been a definite roadmap for a broadbased engagement with Pakistan that had been decided after the two foreign ministers met in Nuwaraeliya, Sri Lanka. This included talks between ministers of state, experts on nuclear CBMs and foreign ministers.

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