March 2002 News

Omar rules out troops withdrawal, says infiltration reduced

12 March 2002
The Hindustan Times

New Delhi: Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah today said that infiltration from across the border had reduced but ruled out troops withdrawal until Pakistan proved its sincerity. ''There has been some relief as far as the reduction of cross border terrorism and violence at the border is concerned but New Delhi will not be withdrawing the army from the border until Islamabad proved its sincerity,'' Abdullah said in a programme ''Court Martial'' anchored by Karan Thapar to be telecast by SAB TV on Thursday. Asked why was army being stationed when reports suggested decline in the infiltration, he said ''we will judge them only after the snow melts as for now passes used for infiltration are closed due to heavy snow.'' When his attention was drawn to increase in violence and growing number of encounters between security forces and Lashker-e-Taiba, Abdullah said ''of course, there will be an increase in violence in the state because the militant there will feel abandoned.'' He expressed displeasure over Islamabad not handing over the terrorists and criminals wanted by India. Abdullah refused to comment over the statement made by Information Minister Sushma Swaraj in Islamabad that talks could begin even if Pakistan handed over seven to 10 militants out of the 20 sought by India. ''She is a Union Minister and she definitely must have necessary briefing. I would not like to comment on it,'' Abdullah said. The Minister denied when asked whether the statements made by Swaraj at the SAARC Information Ministers'' Conference held at Islamabad reflected confusion within the Government. ''There is no confusion, whatsoever. We will like them (Pakistan) to respond and to at least begin with they should hand over some of the wanted militants...they have to prove themselves so that talks could begin,'' Abdullah said. Referring to the extradition treaty with Pakistan, the Minister said ''we have also told Pakistan that we will like to have an extradition treaty. If International community goes along with us, we are fine with that.'' To another statement of Swaraj that India will talk if violence was brought down by Pakistan by 30 to 50 per cent, he said ''that is right. some beginning has to be made and sooner the better.''


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