May 2000 News

India can never trust Pak after Kargil: Fernandes

26 May 2000
Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: Defence Minister George Fernan-des tonight said India is keeping a ''tight vigil'' along its entire border with Pakistan as New Delhi ''can never trust'' Islamabad after the Kargil conflict. ''We cannot afford to lower our guard along the entire border with Pakistan after Kargil,'' Fernandes told ''Doordarshan'' in an interview on the first anniversary of India launching airstrikes to evict Pakistani intruders along the 150-km stretch in Kargil region. ''The first lesson we have learnt is that we should never trust our western neighbour,'' he said regretting that since the Simla Agreement of 1972 and till 1999, the crucial mountains in the Kargil region had remained unmanned. He said Government was making all efforts to provide the much-needed equipment required to guard the forbidding ranges and asserted that the recommendations of the four task forces appointed in light of the recommendations of the report of the Subrahmanyam Committee on events leading upto the Kargil conflict would be considered ''seriously''. Replying to a question on the ground situation along the border with Pakistan, including the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, Fernandes said although there was a temporary reduction in the rate of shelling after Pakistan''s setback in Kargil conflict, ''at present there is no let up in the tension''. Fernandes said the situation continued to be grim despite the warning given by US President Bill Clinton to Pakistan that it should halt cross-border terrorism to prevent Islamabad''s further isolation in the international community. He made it clear that the stalled dialogue with Pakistan could be resumed only if it put an end to shelling from across the border and stop sending terrorists. ''If it does take such steps, then New Delhi would assume that Islamabad is serious about resumption of the parleys,'' he said. The Defence Minister said a Pakistan military build up along the Poonch-Rajouri sector in J and K by withdrawing regular troops had created an impression that Islamabad was trying to attempt a second Kargil-like situation. ''However, the situation on the ground at present does not indicate such a possibility,'' he said adding ''there is no question of India lowering its guard along its entire western front''.


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