We won''t cross LoC to hit PoK bases: Jaswant
11 October 2001
The Asian Age
New Delhi/Varanasi: External affairs and defence minister Jaswant Singh on Thursday categorically ruled out any “hot pursuit” of terrorist groups across the Line of Control and said there was no question of India launching strikes on terrorist camps in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. But, he added, Islamabad would have to stop all cross-border terrorism. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon, Mr Jaswant Singh also indicated that India was preparing to play a much bigger political role in Afghanistan. The Taliban, he added, could not be allowed to join any new government in Kabul, contrary to Pakistan’s plea to accommodate moderate Taliban elements in a set-up. Mr Singh also said India would send one million tonnes of wheat and other assistance and pledged to rebuild Afghanistan after the end of the war. In Varanasi, meanwhile, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Thursday vowed to firmly deal with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, stating that security operations will be stepped up to flush out the Pakistan-backed mercenaries. “The government will not shy away from intensifying the security forces operations,’’ the Prime Minister said, adding that ‘’we are discussing the matter and an operation on this effect might be launched after considering all options.’’ Talking to reporters in Varanasi before leaving for Ballia, to participate in the birth anniversary celebrations of Jayaprakash Narayan, Mr Vajpayee said the government was also considering the facts made available by Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who also advocated for such flush-out operations at this juncture. Supporting the US airstrikes against terrorism in Afghanistan, Mr Vajpayee said it was wrong to suggest that the attacks were against any particular religion. ‘’Those who are trying to make an issue out of it are only helping the cause of terrorism and they will have to suffer later,’’ he said. Significantly, Mr Jaswant Singh’s assurance comes on the eve of US secretary of state Colin Powell’s visit to India and Pakistan next week. The external affairs minister stressed that Pakistan would have to stop cross-border terrorism before bilateral dialogue could resume. Mr Singh said he had not received any “official” invitation from Pakistan to visit Islamabad. In any case, he added, he would not be able to go to Islamabad at this point because of the situation in the region. On India’s humanitarian assistance for Afghans, he said Indian and Pakistani officials were working out the overland route to facilitate transportation of relief material. The relief would include wheat, medicines, tents, quilts, blankets and medical equipment like the Jaipur Foot, the minister added. New Delhi said on Thursday that a meeting has already taken place between Northern Alliance leader B. Rabbani and Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmanov. India also said that two Northern Alliance field commanders have been killed in the fighting so far. Mr Singh provided some operational details about the action against the Taliban. He indicated that after four days of continuous strikes, there might be a lull in the offensive on Friday, it being a day of prayer. Mr Singh, however, said that war against terrorism was going to be long, when asked whether the strikes would be halted in the approaching month of Ramzan.