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June 3, 1999
'Militants' see 'defeat' in safe passage offer
The Lashkar-i-Tayyaba has rejected the proposed safe passage offer to Pakistan-backed infiltrators in the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
"It is an admission of demoralisation and defeat of the Indian forces," Lashkar-i-Tayyaba leader Abdullah Muntazir has said in a statement issued in Islamabad.
The offer was first made by Defence Minister George Fernandes.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee yesterday backed the proposal, much to the discomfort of his senior colleagues like Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani.
Even the Opposition Congress has taken the government to task in this regard. ''How can the government make such statements when our soldiers are dying?'' asked the party's foreign affairs department chief K Natwar Singh.
Pakistani foreign office spokesman Tariq Altaf too rejected the Indian offer. ''Where is the question of a safe passage when they are freedom fighters in their land?''
Backing this contention, Muntazir has urged Pakistan not to hold talks with India on the issue. "Pakistan has no locus standi to speak for the Kashmir freedom fighters," he has said.
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