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December 21, 2001
2054 IST

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Recall of envoy a 'foolish' decision: Khushwant

Onkar Singh in New Delhi

Well-known author and journalist Khushwant Singh described the decision of the Indian government to recall its envoy from Pakistan as 'foolish'.

He also criticised the decision of the government to stop the Samjhauta Express and Lahore bus service from January one, 2002, saying the government was dealing a blow to people-to-people contacts.

Talking to rediff.com, the author of the famous novel Train to Pakistan said such decisions would increase hostility between the two neighbours.

The Indian government had earlier announced these decisions in wake of Pakistan's refusal to take action against Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, said to be responsible for the December 13 suicide attack on Parliament House.

"I think the steps taken by the Indian government are foolish. You have got to think of other methods of putting pressure on the Pakistan government to stop terrorist organisations operating from Pakistani soil from carrying out attacks against India. By suspending the train and bus service you are stopping people-to-people contact," Singh said.

"In the modern day world you got to live with your neighbour and sort out matters with it. By withdrawing the high commissioner from Pakistan you are taking one step towards further hostilities between India and Pakistan," he said.

Former director general of Punjab police K P S Gill, however, welcomed the government decision.

"At this juncture we have to extend full support to the Indian government for whatever measures it has taken in view of the developments in last one week. Samjhauta Express and Delhi-Lahore bus service are symbols of goodwill. As these gestures are not being reciprocated by Pakistan, therefore, there is no point on continuing these services," Gill told rediff.com.

Asked if these measures would send the desired message to Pakistan, Gill said that it would certainly send strong signals to the Pakistan government to take action against the terrorist outfits operating from its soil.

"I am not sure if these measures would help in bringing down the level of violence by the terrorist outfits, but this would send the right message to General Pervez Musharraf," he said.

Gill said that the option of hot pursuit was still open to the Indian government.

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman in Parliament Vijay Kumar Malhotra also welcomed the government decision.

"We welcome the government move to recall the Indian high commissioner to Pakistan and hope other measures would follow," Malhotra said.

He however did not specify what kind of measures he is expecting from the government.

Complete Coverage: The Attack on Parliament

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