June 1999 News

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Donít force war, Vajpayee warns Pak

13 June 1999
Hindustan Times

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today firmly ruled out resumption of Prime Ministerial level talks between India and Pakistan to end the Kargil conflict. He, however, asserted that the doors for dialogue have not been completely shut, "though there is no specific proposal".

Speaking after he arrived in Kargil, Mr Vajpayee declared that India is "fully prepared for a war if it is thrust upon us". Even as the PM was speaking, there was heavy shelling from the Pakistan side. Pakistani shells fell within less than 2 km of the helipad where the Prime Minister landed. The divisional commissionerís office in adjoining Baru village was destroyed around the time the PM was to address residents there.

Five of these shells exploded while Mr Vajpayee was in Kargil. The intense shelling brought a change in the PMís scheduled programme. He did not visit Minji where a large number of migrants from Kargil and Drass have taken refuge. He reiterated at a sainik sammelan that India would settle for nothing short of throwing out all the intruders from the Indian soil.

"India is a peace loving nation but that should not be viewed as its weakness. We are capable of doing everything possible to preserve our territorial integrity," he said. "I salute your courage and bravery. The whole nation is with you," Mr Vajpayee reassured the troops.

Mr Vajpayee also reviewed the progress of "Operation Vijay" with the local army commanders. He was accompanied by Defence Minister George Fernandes. Later in the evening the PM told a news conference in Srinagar: "No responsible person will talk about the nuclear option. He said Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Azizís proposals yesterday fell short of expectations. "They did not contain a promise that aggression would be vacated and status quo ante would be restored on the LoC."

The PM said: "Our effort is to avoid war. But, we are determined to get back our territory. But it is difficult to set a deadline for this."

Sharif rings Atal

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today spoke to his Indian counterpart Atal Behari Vajpayee by phone to urge that the two countries take steps to defuse Kashmir tensions, officials said.

He told Vajpayee that "mutually acceptable" approaches should be devised to preserve peace and prevent "our region from descending into chaos and conflagration," an official statement said. "It is incumbent on the leadership to avert any further aggravation which will be detrimental to the economic development efforts in both countries," the statement quoted Sharif as telling the Indian premier.

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