October 2001 News

Ministry supports Army general on Kashmir

31 October 2001
The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Lt Gen R K Nanavatty''s statement that India and Pakistan are close to the situation that existed before the 1965 war is in keeping with the line of thinking adopted by Defence Minister George Fernandes, defence ministry spokesperson P K Bandopadhyay said on Wednesday.''The minister (referring to Fernandes) is away in Chandigarh and he is aware of Lt Gen Nanavatty''s statements which were made in the course of a seminar. The statements are in keeping with the spirit of the remarks that have been made by the defence minister himself in the last 10 days,'' Bandopadhyay added.''This, however, does not translate into any concrete instructions being passed on to the military command in the field,'' he added. Bandopadhyay was responding to questions as to whether the army general''s anti-Pakistan rhetoric had the support of the Indian government.In the most aggressive war signal in years by a military commander, Lt Gen R K Nanavatty, head of the Indian army''s Northern Command, is reported to have said that India must remain prepared for military action, and that the capture of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir was achievable.''The nuclearisation of the subcontinent might have altered the situation, but despite that, the stage exists for a limited conventional war,'' Nanavatty reportedly said, referring the Indian and Pakistani nuclear arsenals developed after 1998 tests. ''We must remain prepared to exercise the military option as well'', he is reported to have said.Normally, the Indian army is known to be keeping a low-profile on sensitive issues like Indo-Pak relations and are not prone to issuing statements like Lt General Nanavatty did.''The remarks were made in the course of a seminar in which Nanavatty spoke on several other issues as well,'' explained Bandopdhyay. ''On one hand, it will be advisable not to read too much into Nanavatty''s comments, at the same time, it is an indication of the situation as it exists today,'' he added.Relations between India and Pakistan have been at its lowest ebb in recent times following the failure of the Agra summit, the suicide attack by terrorists on the J&K assembly and most recent incident when Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee''s refused to meet President Pervez Musharraf in New York.After a 10-month border calm, the Indian Army shelled Pakistani military posts recently, during the visit of US Secretary of State General Colin Powell to India.Defence Minister George Fernandes in recent interviews to the media has emphasised that the US-led campaign against terrorism has made no difference to Pakistan''s training and supporting militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir.''There are scores of these training camps and there is no evidence that they have been shut down. In some of them, activity may have been shifted to another place to demonstrate to the Americans that ''See we had a camp here and now it''s gone''. I don''t have any reason to believe there is any reduction in their efforts to train, equip and export militants to India,'' Fernandes has said.He has also said that the Centre was working on a new, multifaceted strategy to tackle militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, which will involve an all out offensive against militants. However, he ruled out crossing the Line of Control to hit terrorist camps on the other side.


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