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Pak passes Delhi sneak-in test

New Delhi, Jan. 3: Getting into the spirit of the season of good cheer for India and Pakistan, a high-level military assessment here has for the first time acknowledged that General Pervez Musharraf’s initiative for a ceasefire on the Line of Control has resulted in a decline in infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir.

Against the backdrop of New Delhi’s officially stated position — “there will be no formal talks with Pakistan unless their cross-border terrorism stops” — the “perceptible” drop in infiltration is seen as one more “confidence-building measure”.

High-level sources here say “the biggest confidence-building measure of course is the visit of the Prime Minister (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) to Pakistan despite the security situation there”.

The optimistic assessment on the ceasefire does not change despite the attack by militants at Jammu railway station yesterday. They also acknowledge that militants in Jammu and Kashmir have sanctuaries within the state borders from where they launch attacks.

The acknowledgement that the ceasefire has resulted in a drop in the cross-border flow of traffic comes along with the recognition that this is not merely seasonal, meaning not only because it is peak winter and snow has choked high mountain passes along the 740 km contentious border in Jammu and Kashmir.

The assessment also notes that the Id ceasefire has been total from Day One, that is the night of November 26-27, 2003. “Not a single bullet has been fired even by mistake,” a high-level defence source said. The assessment forms the background to India’s offer to convert the current situation along the LoC into a “permanent ceasefire”.

A review of the peace on the LoC has also prompted the high-level source to draw a parallel with the situation on the eastern borders. “In certain respects, the current situation along the LoC is like the situation along the China border,” the high-level source said. There has been no acrimony along the China border for more than three years with a series of confidence-building measures following the agreement on peace and tranquillity with Beijing.

The source said it had been put to Pakistan that with the LoC tranquil, it must now be seen to “dismantle terrorist infrastructure in PoK”. The source said: “There is evidence that terrorist camps are still there (in PoK) but this is not to underplay the fair decline in the level of cross-border activity.”

The source said counter-insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir was now focusing on “pockets of terrorists within the state”.

“It is true that terrorists have always found some space within our borders and have been operating from there,” the source said. He referred to the operation code-named Operation Sarp Vinash in early 2003 that was a drive against militant camps in Hilkaka in the neighbourhood of Surankote as a pointer to the kind of military action that was being contemplated.

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