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June 26, 1999
Vajpayee rules out third-party mediation
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said the question of crossing the Line of Control in Kargil is a strategic one and would be decided at the appropriate time.
"I am often asked whether Indian troops should be given the go-ahead to cross the LoC," Vajpayee said while addressing a massive rally at the Fergusson College grounds in Pune this evening.
"However, this is a difficult question to answer since it pertains to strategic thinking," he said, adding that it could only be decided at the appropriate time.
Vajpayee, however, stressed that India is ready for any eventuality resulting out of Pakistan's failure to respect the LoC.
The LoC has been clearly demarcated by representatives of both countries in 1972 and is indicated in the maps in both countries, Vajpayee said, adding that documents recovered from a slain Pakistani soldier also showed the "same LoC as claimed by us".
Referring to the international support building up for India and the international community's acknowledgement that it is Pakistan that has shown disrespect to the LoC, the prime minister, however, insisted that India will never accept third-party mediation to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
Kashmir is not just a piece of land but represents a symbol of principles, he said. "Every inch of Kashmir is sacred to us and our soldiers have laid down their lives to protect it. India will rest only after throwing out each and every infiltrator," he said.
"We believe in peace, but there cannot be a unilateral offer of peace," Vajpayee said referring to Pakistan's betrayal of the Lahore bus trip and its sustained efforts to foment trouble in Kashmir.
"The world community knows we are serious about mending relations with Pakistan, but every time we extend a hand of friendship, the neighbour has only placed burning cinders on our hands," Vajpayee said. "But we do not want to aggravate the burning cinders into a conflagration," he added.
While stressing that India's victory is assured, Vajpayee said Pakistan is issuing threats since it is shaken. "It is only the weak who hold out threats," he said. "The strong act with restraint... Our patience is a sign of strength and should not be mistaken for weakness."
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