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May 28, 1999
Pak faces Hobson's choice over corpses of slain intruders
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
India today put Pakistan in an embarrassing situation over what is to be done with the corpses of the 200-plus infiltrators killed by the Indian armed forces.
Senior officials of the Ministry of Defence told this correspondent that as pointed out by the army spokesman, Maj Gen J J Singh, over 200 dead bodies of Pakistani infiltrators had been recovered by the Indian authorities. Many among these could be Pakistani army regulars, it was revealed.
Now, it is for Pakistan to decide what is to be done with their dead. If the Pakistanis accept the dead bodies, it would mean in the eyes of the international community that their troops, after all, did transgress into the Indian side of the Line of Control in the Kargil sector.
However, if Islamabad decides not to accept the dead bodies, claiming it had nothing to do with them, considerable resentment would be triggered off in the Pakistani army.
The officials pointed out that the families and relatives of the dead Pakistani soldiers would make an issue of it.
Ministry of External Affairs functionaries, meanwhile, ruled out the possibility of external interference in Jammu and Kashmir over the ongoing conflict in Kargil.
They argued that latest developments in the conflict indicated that it has been localised. This despite the shooting down of three Indian planes by the infiltrators, apparently with shoulder-fired Stinger missiles.
Referring to the United States statement which virtually snubbed Pakistan for claiming that India had dropped bombs on its territory, the MEA officials pointed out that Islamabad's diplomatic offensive to internationalise the Kargil issue appears to have flopped because of the unwillingness on the part of the international community to get involved in a 50-year-old conflict between the two sub-continental neighbours.
According to these officials, Pakistan's plea to have the United Nations send observers to Jammu and Kashmir is also not feasible as India had long back rejected such an option. The UN Observer Group now operates from Pakistani soil.
The officials asserted that the Pakistan Information Minister Mushahid Hussain might succeed in converting fiction into truth to Pakistani audiences but not to the international community.
They indicated that India will be handing over the dead bodies to Pakistan some time next week.
Meanwhile, it was disclosed that the Indian pilot who is in Pakistani custody right now, Nachiketa Rao, is a native of Andhra Pradesh. The Indian authorities have demanded that he be returned to India safely because the two countries are not at war.
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