India ready for cooperative, consultative mechanism on J&K
20 March 2007
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Ruling out any redrawing of its boundaries, India today said it was open to 'cooperative and consultative mechanisms' on Jammu and Kashmir involving the two parts of the State that were actively encouraged by New Delhi and Islamabad. Such cooperative mechanisms can multiply the gains of cooperation in solving the problems of social and economic development of the region, according to the Defence Ministry’s annual report placed in Parliament today. Emphasizing that India wanted good neighbourly relations with Pakistan, for which it had taken several initiatives, the Defence Ministry said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already declared a readiness to find a 'pragmatic solution' to the Kashmir problem. Singh has envisaged a situation 'where the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir can, with active encouragement of the Governments of India and Pakistan, work out cooperative, consultative mechanisms so as to maximise the gains of cooperation'. In an effort to build cordial relations with Pakistan, India has taken several policy initiatives and proposed confidence-building measures to enlarge the areas of convergence and to build trust, the report said. However, India continues to have security concerns with Pakistan on cross-border terrorism, the ministry noted in the report which provides a yearly update on defence-related issues. 'Terrorist groups continue to operate freely in Pakistan,' the report noted, adding that these groups were also finding shelter, support and training for operations across the border and Line of Control from elements in Pakistan. Pointing out that Pakistan-based terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba were now 'demonstrating ever-increasing reach', the Defence Ministry said this was demonstrated by recent incidents of terrorism and suicide bombings in some countries. 'India has repeatedly reiterated the need for Pakistan to fulfill its commitment outlined in the joint press statement of January 6, 2004 of not permitting the use of the territory under its control to support terrorism in any manner,' the report said. The whole dialogue process hinges on building an atmosphere of trust and confidence free from violence and terror, said the report that contains the Defence Ministry’s overview on India’s security situation. 'Infiltration has to stop and Pakistan needs to take decisive action on dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism,' the report contended. Noting that there cannot be a segmented approach to terror, the report said training camps, launch pads and the communication network of terrorist groups must be eliminated for an effective end to terrorism. Hailing the setting up of the joint anti- terror mechanism, the Defence Ministry said it was India’s hope that demonstrable action will be taken by Pakistan against terror to make this work effectively. As India’s armed forces and security planners continued to focus on the internal security scenario, the global ascendancy in violence also directly impacted on the country, the report said. The level of terrorist violence in the Northeast showed a marginal increase in 2006, mainly in the States of Assam and Nagaland, it said. Naxal violence was also a 'cause of concern'. Though incidents of violence perpetrated by Maoists decreased in 2006, casualties among civilians and security personnel remained at the levels witnessed in 2005, it said. Focussing on the Naxalite problem, the report described as 'comforting' the fact that political and social turmoil in Nepal had tapered out. Though the reconciliation process in the Himalayan State is 'encouraging', there is still a need to continously monitor and analyse developments impinging on India’s security, it said. Relations with China were progressing well and developing into a 'strategic and cooperative' partnership, though New Delhi would have to monitor Beijing’s military modernisation and continued upgradation of its nuclear and missile assets, it said. Indian defence planners would also have to monitor the development of infrastructure on the Sino- Indian border and China’s growing military links with some of India’s closest neighbours, the report said. 'The Chinese assistance to Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme has been a matter of concern,' the Defence Ministry said, noting that this had adversely impacted on India’s national security environment. 'We have taken note of the recent destruction by China of its own satellite in polar orbit through direct ascent anti-satellite test,' the report also said. The report said the rise of fundamentalism in Bangladesh was a threat to that country and the whole region. 'India is seriously concerned about the recent involvement of certain Bangladesh outfits or nationals in terrorist activities within India,' the report said, adding that New Delhi was banking on assurances given by the neighbouring country’s Government that it will not allow its soil to be used for anti-India activities. The report also outlined India’s concern at the escalation of violence in recent months in some parts of Afghanistan by elements of the Taliban and Al- Qaeda.