George blasts Pak for supporting ultras in Kashmir
22 January 2001
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Defence Minister George criticised Pakistan on Monday for backing Kahmir militants who have stepped up attacks in Kashmir, but gave no hint of whether it would extend its ceasefire in the troubled region. India temporarily suspended hostilities against militants on November 28. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee later renewed the unprecedented truce for another month, saying the situation would be reviewed after Republic Day on January 26. 'These are questions to which you will have the answer at the appropriate time,' Defence Minister George Fernandes told reporters. He said the frontier which divides India and Pakistan in the disputed Himalayan territory, which regularly saw exchanges of artillery fire, had fallen quiet during the truce. But he said New Delhi was concerned about the level of militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, and blamed Pakistan for sponsoring their perpetrators. 'One would have thought after the prime minister extended the ceasefire (Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez) Musharraf would have reined in organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen,' he said, naming two militant groups. 'This has not been done.' 'This is a matter of deep concern. One does not believe that they do not have any control over these organisations.' Pakistan denies Indian allegations that it provides material support for groups fighting Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir, but acknowledges its moral and political support for the Kashmiri people's struggle for self-determination. But Fernandes said India could not accept Pakistan's insistence that the militant groups acted autonomously. 'Pakistan in earlier times had spoken of the support they had given to these outfits. They had proudly spoken of the material, weaponry support and training they had given to these outfits. 'Now they say these outfits are autonomous bodies. This is something we cannot buy,' he said. More than 30,000 people have died in the 11-year-old insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir. Differences over the region have been the cause for two of the three wars that India and Pakistan have fought since their independence from Britain in 1947.