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July 10, 1999
Victory is near, army chief tells Cabinet committee
George Iype in New Delhi
As Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief begun talking to militant groups to persuade them to vacate from the Kargil hills on Saturday, India remained cautious, as there is no proof on the ground on the withdrawal of infiltrators.
Ministry of External Affairs officials said India is "suspicious of the Islamabad's modus operandi" on many counts.
India believes the primary motive for Pakistan's decision to withdraw its troops under compulsion from Washington is to internationalise the Kashmir issue.
Officials said the Pakistan government's description that the infiltration in Kargil is a 'valiant and courageous action for the just cause of self-determination' makes it abundantly clear that the Sharief regime fully supports the militant groups.
Therefore, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, encouraged by the string of diplomatic successes since Operation Vijay was launched, will now step up its diplomatic offensive whether or not Pakistan soldiers and militants vacate the Kargil hills.
On Saturday, the apex Cabinet Committee on Security met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Vajpayee. External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, Defence Minister George Fernandes, the three service chiefs and National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra attended the meeting.
For the first time, Chief of the Army Staff General V P Malik apprised the CCS of the continuing military action in Kargil in the operations room of the Directorate General of Military Operations at South Block. For the first time, the army chief informed the apex Cabinet committee that victory for India is near.
On the diplomatic front, the government has decided to continue the multi-pronged initiatives to prevent international mediation in the Kashmir dispute.
India expects that once Pakistan completes the withdrawal of its troops and the militants from Kargil, Islamabad will press hard for the renewal of bilateral dialogue immediately. India has indicated that bilateral talks could take place once the intruders withdrew from the Kargil heights.
In anticipation of the Pakistani clamour for a fresh dialogue, the Prime Minister's Office and the MEA have been put into top gear.
An official said India will not agree to a fresh dialogue unless the army physically verified that the last intruder had vacated army bunkers.
Meanwhile, there has been no let down in the military action against the Pakistani regulars and intruders in the last 24 hours.
After clearing the Batalik heights of militants, Indian forces unleashed heavy fire power on the infiltrators in the Mushkoh valley and Kaksar where the Pakistan troops are five kilometres into the Indian side of the Line of Control.
Troops recaptured the Rocky Knob peak in the Mushkoh valley on Saturday, and army officials said bigger breakthroughs will come through soon.
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