Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh announced on Wednesday that the six-month ceasefire in Jammu & Kashmir, ending May 31, would not be extended any further. At the same time, the government has extended an invitation to Pakistani Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf to hold a dialogue for a speedy solution of the Kashmir dispute.
Briefing reporters after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, presided over by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at 7 Race Course Road, Singh, who holds additional charge of defence, said Vajpayee had announced 'non-initiation of combat operations' against the terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir at the beginning of Ramadan late last year. This was subsequently extended and "it has now lasted for six months", he noted.
Singh said it was expected that various terrorist groups and organisations, mostly foreign, would see reason and recognising the imperatives of peace, dialogue and co-operation, and shun violence.
"Regrettably, they have not. This phase, therefore, is now over."
He said terrorist groups had hindered the restoration of peace in J&K and inflicted misery upon the people of the state. "Hereafter, security forces shall take such action against terrorists as they judge best. They will, in the process, continue to exercise maximum care that no harassment is caused to the civilian population."
According to Singh, the process of dialogue initiated by the prime minister under central interlocutor Krishen Chandra Pant would continue unhindered. He said the government's invitation to all sections in Jammu & Kashmir was to join this dialogue. He also pointed out that "India is yet again offering the hand of friendship, reconciliation, cooperation and peace to Pakistan, in the expectation that this opportunity shall be positively and purposefully utilized by them."
Replying to a question, Singh said he would rather not address himself to the issue of the Hurriyat Conference members visiting Pakistan.
The Complete Coverage: The Ceasefire in J&K
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