September 1999 News

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India rejects Nawaz Sharif's Kashmir plebiscite demand

18 September 1999
Daily Excelsior

NEW DELHI: A sensational development has taken place across the Line of Control(LoC) in Kargil region of Ladakh, with the reported deployment of an unspecified number of Chinese-supplied M-11 short-range ballistic missiles. Pakistan’s military machine has also been reported to have deployed surface-to-air missiles in Gilgit region across Kashmir.

Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif, intelligence specialists have divulged, undertook a whirlwind tour of certain parts of Gilgit on September 9 after his Army Chief had informed him about the additional reinforcements of soldiers fully trained in mountain warfare having been rushed to several places in Gilgit and Skardu regions across Kargil.

After his participation in a ‘special’ military function in Gilgit, Mr Nawaz Sharif discussed with the top Army brass various aspects of the Pak ‘defence preparedness’ as well as the training and transit camps for militants and mercenaries. Mr Nawaz Sharif’s Gilgit visit took place at a time when two significant developments had taken place.

First, the US State Department had rejected Islamabad’s suggestion that the situation in Kashmir could be compared with that of East Timor, where a UN-sponsored referendum was held early this month. While declaring that Kashmir "is not East Timor", Washington had urged Islamabad not to get "trapped into facile analogies that do not apply".

Second, US Intelligence reports stated publicly that Pakistan had received M-11 short-range ballistic missiles from China. Significantly, at a time when the question of whether US law warranted imposing tougher sanctions against Beijing was raised once again, China did not deny US Intelligence reports about the supply of M-11 missiles to Islamabad.

Mr Nawaz Sharif told the military function in Gilgit that he envisaged referendum in Kashmir like that in Indonesia’s beleaguered province, East Timor. And intelligence specialists reported that as slogans like "Kashmir baneyga Pakistan", "Kargil-Kashmir hamaara hai, hamaara hai" and "Kashmiri Mujahideen zindabad" were repeatedly chanted during Mr Sharif’s speech, Pak Prime Minister warned that Pakistan would not tolerate "flagrant violations of human rights of Kashmiris by Indian Army" and declared: "The day is not far when there will be a plebiscite in Kashmir like in East Timor under the UN supervision and Kashmiri brethren will decide their future in accordance with their aspirations".

The Government of India has decried open attempts by Pakistan’s ruling political class to prepare and incite anti-India elements. "We simply reject Islamabad’s renewed proposal favouring a UN conducted plebiscite in Kashmir", the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr LK Advani said when contacted for his comments on the Pak Prime Minister’s demand for a plebiscite in Kashmir.

In fact, New Delhi’s resolve was reaffirmed not to give away "even one centimeter of our territory in Jammu and Kashmir". It was also reiterated: "While the question of allowing a plebiscite in Kashmir just does not arise because of the State’s accession to the Indian Union, the world cannot change facts of history vis--vis Kashmir’s legal and constitutional link with the Union of India".

Mr Advani asked: "How can a plebiscite be held in Jammu and Kashmir which became part and parcel of the Indian Union in 1947?" None in Pakistan or elsewhere in the world, it was pointed out, can influence or intimidate the Government of India by the cry or demand for a plebiscite and UN resolutions in relation to Kashmir. Both the demand for a plebiscite and UN resolutions on Kashmir, in New Delhi’s view, lost relevance following the birth of the Shimla Agreement in 1972, which provides for bilateral negotiations between India and Pakistan on all outstanding issues.

New Delhi has also taken strong exception to Mr Nawaz Sharif’s pronouncement in Gilgit that the "freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people is the result of the suppression of their right of self-determination and is essentially an indigenous phenomenon". Indian authorities insist that disturbances and terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir in the past one decade, which Pakistan has termed as "freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people", have been Islamabad’s "tragic gifts" to the local population of the State.


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