June 1999 News

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Islamabad may not shy away from N-option

25 June 1999
Times of India

ISLAMABAD: Even as Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif expressed confidence on Thursday that Kashmir will one day become part of Pakistan, a newspaper report said that, if need be, Islamabad will not hesitate to use the nuclear option as an ultimate step.

After visiting the wounded soldiers in a hospital in Skardu, Mr Sharif called for resumption of talks with India to defuse the tension in Kashmir. "I invite the government of India to adopt the way of reconciliation so that all disputes, including the 50-year-old row over the Himalayan region, are resolved through peaceful means," he told troops at the 11,600-foot high Gultari post, nine km from the Line of Control (LoC).

Meanwhile, an English daily The News wrote that Pakistan has decided to continue support to the infiltrators in Drass and Kargil sectors and is indicating to the world that in case of an Indian attack, it may not hesitate to use its "ultimate option" - the nuclear weapons.

The newspaper wrote that contrary to the general belief, there was complete understanding between Mr Sharif and the army leadership over the Kargil issue. They took this stand following a series of high-level meetings earlier this week. The News report said though Mr Sharif was initially upset that he was kept in the dark till the last moment about the Kargil operation by the Pakistani army, "this perception is fast fading."

"Following these meetings, both Mr Sharif and the services chiefs have decided that Mujahideen must continue to receive full backing from Pakistan," the report said quoting sources. The report also mentioned Sharif's "active role" in Islamabad's Kargil policy and it was decided that through intense diplomatic initiative the world would be told about any Indian action to breach the territorial integrity of Pakistan and would be considered as an "act of war" and in that case "Pakistan would be left with no choice but to use its nuclear option."

Meanwhile, efforts seeking international support, are on from the Pakistan side. The Nation daily reported that Mr Sharif, in an unusual gesture, visited the Chinese ambassador at the latter's residence and discussed the Kargil issue on Wednesday night. He also had a telephonic talk with Democratic Senator Tom Harkins on the Kashmir situation. Senator Harkins, believed to be close to President Clinton, said he would take up with the President the issues raised by Mr Sharif.

In Washington, Punjab governor Shahid Hamid, as a special envoy of Mr Sharif, met assistant secretary of state for south Asian affairs Karl Inderfurth to explain his country's stand on the Kargil conflict. On G-8's resolution on Kashmir, criticising Pakistan's military action to change the status quo, he said Pakistan had not crossed the LoC nor did it have any intention to do so. Mr Hamid, however, maintained Pakistan had nothing to do with the militants active in Kashmir.

Meanwhile, another Pakistani envoy met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak seeking the Egyptian leader's influence to prevent the situation from deteriorating.(Agencies)

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