July 2001 News

Pact on peace at LoC unlikely

5 July 2001
The Pioneer
Rahul Datta

New Delhi: The forthcoming Indo-Pakistan summit is unlikely to witness any formal agreement on maintaining peace and tranquillity at the Line of Control (LoC) and no first-use of nuclear weapons. India is not likely to accept the Pakistani proposal to discuss the Kashmir issue outside the ambit of bilateralism. The two countries, moreover, are not inclined to have an "open skies" treaty at the present juncture, sources said here on Wednesday. Elaborating upon these sensitive issues likely to come up during the three-day talks between President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, sources in Pakistan was not keen to make the LoC free from trouble for obvious reasons. They could, on the other hand, put in a rider by asking India to agree to have international observers to refree the LoC, it was learnt. In an effort to reduce nuclear war risk in the sub-continent, India was ready to sign a "no first use of nuclear weapons" treaty with Pakistan. It, however, was following the "offensive defence" strategy for the last 15 years. This offensive defence strategy comprised the use of fundamentalist organisations to unleash a terror campaign for achieving geo-political goals and a stockpile of nuclear weapons to defend its boundaries. The proposed "open skies" treaty was a non-starter given the geographical constraints of both the countries, sources said. Giving an example, they said the distance between Amritsar and Lahore was not more than 50 kilometres. An "open skies" treaty allowing military planes to fly 50 kilometres inside each other's territory would enable the reconnaissance planes of both the countries to pinpoint the locations of troops and gun positions. In fact, the two countries had signed an agreement in 1990 to prevent air space violations and permitting over flights and landings by military aircraft. Both the sides, however, were hesitant to follow the agreement in letter and spirit, sources said. Given the mutual distrust, the two countries, however, had managed to follow five confidence building measures in the last two decades. The first measure signed in December 1988 and ratified in January 1991 saw the two nations agreeing not to attack each other's designated nuclear installations. Both the countries were providing each other information about the latitude and longitude of nuclear installations since then, sources said. A joint declaration made in August 1992 saw both the countries agreeing not to use, produce, stock pile chemical weapons or transfer the technology to others. Both the countries later joined the Chemical Weapons Convention 1993. The third agreement in August 1990 witnessed the establishment of a hotline between the director general military operations(DGMO) of India and Pakistan. The agreement also said the two DGMOs would exchange notes at least once a week. This system worked even during the 1999 Kargil War, sources said. The two sides are also following the fourth agreement signed in 1990 about giving advance information regarding military exercises, movements and manoeuvres. In fact, India and Pakistan are sharing more information regularly after the May 1998 nuclear tests in the two countries. The fifth confidence building measure covers advance notice of ballistic missile flight tests. This came into being after the Lahore declaration in 1999. India informed Pakistan about the Agni tests and Pakistan reciprocated by informing India about flight tests of Shaheen and Ghauri missiles, it was learnt.

 

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