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June 7, 1999
OIC too unwilling to support Pakistan
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delji
Having failed to internationalise the Kashmir issue even as the Kargil conflict rages, Islamabad is now trying to enlist the support of the Organisation of Islamic Conference.
But according to senior officials in the external affairs ministry, even the OIC countries appear to be hesitant to espouse Pakistan's because the international community, led by the United States, has virtually acknowledged that the crisis has been caused by Pakistan sending infiltrators across the Line of Control into India.
They said it has been a routine Pakistani ploy to look up to the OIC whenever it comes to internationalising the Kashmir issue.
But this time around, it has been acknowledged, across the international board, that Pakistan is the guilty party. This has been proved by the letter US President Bill Clinton wrote to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, underscoring that Washington did not approve of the Pakistani infiltration into Indian territory, the officials pointed out.
It was underscored that the Indian diplomatic offensive now initiated on a war footing includes the stressing of the ground realities of the situation in which Pakistan is the undoubted aggressor. As a result, even the OIC is fighting shy of supporting the Pakistanis, the officials said.
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh has therefore expressed satisfaction that the international reaction to the Kargil conflict has endorsed the ground realities and shown Pakistan in poor light.
The officials pointed out that even as India was determined to evict the Pakistani intruders, New Delhi's diplomatic offensive to put things in proper perspective would continue.
Meanwhile, the government spokesman at a joint press conference of the external affairs and defence ministries today reiterated that India was working out the date for the visit of Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz and inform Islamabad accordingly. The spokesman refused to elaborate.
The army spokesman, Colonel Vikram Singh, clarified that 221 Pakistani Army soldiers had been killed so far in the Kargil conflict. He, however, hastened to point out that this did not include Afghan mercenaries who had sought to give an aura of jihad (holy war) to the Kargil conflict.
He said the Indian armed forces had deduced a methodology to distinguish between the Pakistani Army regulars and the Afghan terrorists.
He said he would soon inform the media of the total number of men killed from the Pakistani side.
Answering questions, Colonel Singh clarified that the intruders are still 3 to 3.5 km inside Indian territory, but the area held by them "is shrinking everyday" as the Indian armed forces "relentlessly press on".
Answering another question, he said Pakistani helicopters are supplying essential commodities to their troops on the other side of the LoC.
He said a Pakistani helicopter that got close to the LoC was fired upon by Indian forces and fled.
He said the Pakistani forces had built two mud helipads on the other side of the LoC.
The external affairs ministry spokesman expressed concern that Pakistan was playing a "dangerous game" by creating deliberate confusion about the well-delineated LoC which had "flowed" from the Simla Agreement which was the basis of stable Indo-Pak relations.
He pointed out that New Delhi would not allow the Pakistani game plan to succeed at any cost.
The army spokesman said the latest Indian casualty figures are 60 killed, 217 injured and 14 missing.
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