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July 21, 1999
No talks with Pakistan till general elections, says MEA
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
India will not resume the composite dialogue with Pakistan till the Lok Sabha elections are over and there was no question of caving in to pressure from the US or any other country to start it immediately, top ministry of external affairs officials said today.
The officials told this correspondent that according to the latest indications from Islamabad, although the bulk of its troops had withdrawn from the Indian side in Kargil, three positions in the Muskoh, Batalik and Drass sectors were still being tenaciously held by Pakistan-backed mercenaries. These mercenaries were being supported by shelling by the Pakistani army from positions in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, they said.
The officials said that despite the Clinton-Sharief statement regarding the Pakistani withdrawal of troops from Indian soil, New Delhi had found that the mercenaries had apparently been told to try and cause the reorganisation of the Line of Control. That was why some of them had hung on in Muskoh, Batalik and Drass, they said.
It was underscored that India's terms for resuming dialogue had rattled Pakistan because one condition -- that Islamabad would have to stop cross-border terrorism -- struck at the root of its Kashmir policy. The Pakistan government, beside trying to enlist international support for its Kashmir cause, also sent Islamic terrorists into India to perpetrate various atrocities.
The officials said External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh would apprise the international community, including the leaders of the G-8 countries, of Pakistan's designs in Kargil.
The officials said India was not unnecessarily concerned about the remaining mercenaries in Kargil because New Delhi's resolve for driving them out had been further hardened.
The director-general of military operations of the two countries are meeting from time to time to apprise each other of the latest developments in Kargil.
Meanwhile, ministry of home affairs officials said that due to the presence of security forces in the Kashmir valley, mercenaries from Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Turkey and other countries were sneaking into the Jammu region, mainly through Anantnag district, to unleash a reign of terror among the minorities, especially Hindus.
According to the MHA officials, Surankot, a sub-divisional town in the Poonch district of Jammu has become a "hotspot", with government intelligence officials finding a sharp increase in the terrorist presence. The recent massacres in Bhadanwa, Kishtwar and Ramban are being attributed to the mercenaries who entered the Jammu region.
The officials said Pakistan's Operation Topac, to cause trouble in Jammu and Kashmir, had been conceived with a three-pronged strategy:
a) The militants were to begin low-key insurgency activities to damage communications networks, subverting the functioning of the police force and financial institutions.
b) Subsequently, they were to exert direct pressure along the LoC by large-scale sabotage and by infiltrating mercenaries and special forces to attack vital targets in new areas.
c) The militants were to use religion as a motivating and binding factor to spur the call for jihad and have Jammu and Kashmir break away from India.
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