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May 26, 1999
Advani accuses Pakistan of sending troops across
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani today said the infiltration by militants in the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir appeared to have Islamabad's endorsement because the presence of regular Pakistani troops along with Afghan mercenaries has been "proved".
Addressing a press conference at the North Block in New Delhi, Advani admitted that the Indian government had known of the Pakistani infiltration, which he described as "an incursion into our territory", for quite some time. But action was slow in coming because "the government has to exercise restraint in these matters".
He said the manner in which the infiltrators operated from the higher reaches of Kargil showed that they were highly trained, and the government has reason to believe there are "Pakistani Army regulars" along with the Afghan mercenaries.
He said the strikes by the Indian Air Force were aimed at destroying the bunkers the infiltrators had set up in the snow-bound areas.
He said 16 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force have also been made available to fight the infiltrators. "You cannot get away with this kind of army action," he emphasised.
According to Advani, the government had noted the statement of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir leader Sardar Atiq Khan, hailing the Pakistani Army for having "boosted the morale" of the terrorists.
He underscored that the Pakistanis had not only violated the Simla Agreement, but also the Lahore Declaration.
He said that in the last 14 months, the government had successfully tackled the problem of terrorism and separatism in Jammu & Kashmir, liquidating 347 militants in the first five months of this year alone.
He said Pakistan's latest move would be "smashed" with the IAF continuing its operations till the status quo ante is restored.
Advani confirmed that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had spoken to Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharief and told him that what was happening in Kargil was "a distressing departure" from the harmony and cordiality of the Lahore Declaration.
He hoped that all shades of political opinion in the country would firmly support the government in its endeavour to defeat the Pakistani designs.
Advani, however, refused to say whether the Indian Army would respond if the Pakistanis up the ante in Kargil, pleading that the defence ministry is the right authority to answer the question.
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