Big Eight fire veiled ultimatum at Pak
Bleeding but ready to do & die
Shane storm shames Pakistan
Calcutta weather

 
 
BIG EIGHT FIRE VEILED ULTIMATUM AT PAK 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, June 20: 
India scored a diplomatic victory today as the Group of Eight condemned the armed intrusion in Kargil as an ?irresponsible? act and put the onus of resolving the conflict on Islamabad.

There was good news on the military front as well with troops recapturing Peak 5140, the highest point on the Tololing ridge, gaining vital access to the Line of Control.

At the end of its two-day summit in Cologne, the G8 issued a strong statement on Kargil, echoing the US position that the LoC must be respected. It stressed on the need to restore status quo ante in Kargil and called upon both sides to end fighting and return to the negotiating table.

But the G8 also grabbed the opportunity to express concern over escalation of tension between the nuclear neighbours and urged them to join international non-proliferation efforts. While the G8 statement is loaded in India?s favour, it omits naming Pakistan as the culprit. Islamabad?s role in the incursion can only be established by implication. The group, which includes Pakistan?s biggest aid donors, also did not impose sanctions.

These concessions appear to be a clever ploy to give Pakistan a chance to pull out its troops from Kargil and ensure the conflict does not escalate further.

But the magnitude of Delhi?s diplomatic victory cannot be discounted, particularly in the context of the G8?s strong condemnation of India after the Pokhran tests. The world leaders today clearly laid down the sequence in which they hoped to restore peace in South Asia: an immediate end to the armed intrusion, restoration of the LoC, cessation of fighting and resumption of dialogue in the spirit of the Lahore Declaration. Foreign ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal said: ?We expect Pakistan will heed this call and act to immediately put an end to its irresponsible conduct and fully restore the status quo ante of the LoC.? He added that ?until that happens, our armed forces will continue their operation?.

Prime Minister?s principal secretary Brajesh Mishra told a television channel the conflict could escalate if Pakistan did not withdraw the intruders. He added that Delhi will stick to the ?no first use? of nuclear weapons but will ?go all out against it if any attempt is made against us?. No response was forthcoming from the Pakistani government. But the main Opposition, the Pakistan People?s Party, criticised the Nawaz Sharif regime for its diplomatic failure and international isolation on Kargil. The G8 statement read: ?We are deeply concerned about the continuing military confrontation in Kashmir following the infiltration of armed intruders which violated the LoC. We regard any military action to change the status quo as irresponsible.

?We, therefore, call for an immediate end to these actions, restoration of the LoC and for the parties to work for immediate cessation of the fighting, full respect in the future for the LoC and the resumption of dialogue.?

Though the G8 statement tilts in India?s favour, it subtly drives home the point that the main problem is not Kargil, but Kashmir. This is a face-saver for Pakistan which has succeeded in internationalising the issue.

But India is not too worried. It is well-known that G8 members such as Canada, UK and Japan are soft on Pakistan. Hence it would have been difficult to talk only about the violation of the LoC without mentioning Kashmir.    


 
 
BLEEDING BUT READY TO DO & DIE 
 
 
BY SANKARSHAN THAKUR FROM BATALIK
 
 
Soldiers don?t make wars, their bosses do. Soldiers just fight and die trying to end them. Lance Naik Mohammed Shafi couldn?t in the least care about the larger games India and Pakistan may be playing for that great prize called Kashmir. He just wants this war over and he is willing to fight and die for it.

Last week he fell down a cliff during the battle for the Kukarthang ridge and broke his hand and toes and hurt his hip. That is how he finds himself at the busy and beleaguered Base Army Medicare Centre, prescription in hand and battle fatigue in his bones. ?I was not ready to come down from the battle initially but now I want to go back as soon as possible and fight to the finish,? Shafi says. Escaping death on the cold mountain must be a blessing but Shafi is prepared to count more.

Shafi is a jawan with the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JKLI) and belongs to Kupwara where he has a wife and three children. ?But they know I am a soldier and I have a job to do. I am just waiting to be allowed to go back.?

His mate from JKLI Riaz Ahmed, who too is on the injured list, is playing equal slave to the call of duty. Also from Kupwara in the Kashmir Valley, Riaz got married on April 13, was summoned for action on April 26 and was up the Kukarthang ridge on May 7. His nose chewed off by frost, his face burnt to coffee by the direct high altitude sun, Riaz is recuperating from a head injury caused by stone splinters during the fighting. ?I could die of splinter wounds sitting here so I might as well die fighting if I have to,? he says, squinting his eyes as the morning sun rises above the peak behind and slowly fills up the wedge of land where the medical centre stands.

A doctor sits on a folding chair in the open, his patients lined up in front. It is an assembly line that has grown longer as the battle in Batalik rages. He writes out prescriptions and directs an assistant to hand out medicines from a makeshift dispensary at his back. The more serious patients are in a cluster of tents where pack mules roam and dust rules. These are soldiers with bullet and splinter wounds, soldiers suffering from heart and lung disorders, even some who are in extreme shock.

Just above this medical base is a Bofors gun position which means serious patients don?t get too much mental relief from the battleground. But the boom of Bofors just above the head of the wounded and ill seems a lesser problem; the site is also exposed to Pakistani shelling, something that has forced senior doctors to request its shifting to a safer location. ?Besides there not being enough space here, we also do not have a proper surgeon and an operation theatre. We would be happier moving a little more behind the frontlines,? a senior doctor said.

Field ambulances are on a constant up and down run from positions further afield, bringing back those in need of medical attention. And in the past hour, three helicopter evacuations have been carried out ? more proof that casualties in the Batalik sector continue to be heavy and serious.

Soldiers returning from the front are unanimous their main disadvantage is that the enemy has the advantage of heights. ?The Pakistanis are sitting on most mountaintops and it is very tough for us to proceed,? says Sewa Ram, a jawan who reported extreme breathlessness on the heights, ?We are on precarious slopes and can move only by dark. One of my mates got shot while lighting his bidi because the enemy sniper could see the strike of his match.?

There is one other issue on which there is unanimity: the intruders are regular Pakistani army soldiers. ?There are mercenaries among them but most are regular soldiers. They wear white snow fatigues, they seem trained from the way they are running their operations and, most of all, they are hanging on to their positions. Mercenaries can never face an army, specially the Indian Army, they neither have such morale nor the commitment,? says Ghulam Nabi, a JKLI subedar. ?Besides, we have repeatedly heard them use the Pakistani army battle cry of Yaa Ali.?

But there is also growing consensus among jawans, the footsoldiers who do the real frontline battling, that there are other problems with the Indian campaign, too. The need to work within the Line of Control, for one. The quality of firearms in their hands, for another. ?We have everything from Kalashnikovs to machineguns to SLRs but I have myself escaped death narrowly because our weapons are jamming in the cold. I have had to spend time recocking my automatic weapon while the enemy was just bursting fire on me,? says one among the huddle of injured jawans waiting their turn at the doctor?s table.

Have they reported this to their bosses? The jawans fall silent briefly before one of them says: ?What is the point in telling our officers? We in the army are told ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.?

2 killed in Pak shelling

Two persons were killed and four injured by Pakistani shelling in Jammu since Saturday, says PTI.

One Amar Singh died in the shelling in Palanwala in Jammu sector this morning while one person identified as Mohammed Sharif was killed in village Dhabria in Poonch last evening, an official spokesman said.    


 
 
SHANE STORM SHAMES PAKISTAN 
 
 
FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
London, June 20: 
It was to have been a titanic showdown. Instead, the World Cup final became an epic of a letdown. Forget going the distance, it lasted a mere 59.1 overs.

There was little passion and one team?s pride was in tatters.

Loads of credit to Australia for regaining the World Cup after 12 years. Surely, it?s not their fault that Pakistan have ensured most will remember this afternoon for reasons other than a no-holds-barred final.

In fact, so quick was Pakistan?s annihilation, by eight wickets, that Jack Russell, the former England wicketkeeper, had to re-arrange his work schedule. He even skipped the customary wine and sandwiches at the break.

Commissioned by NatWest to capture the winning moment on canvas, Russell was, like the rest of the cricket fraternity, stumped by Pakistan?s incredibly early finish ? posting the lowest-ever total in a World Cup final, 132.

Between strokes, then, there was little time to breathe. The ?ask? for Russell became even stiffer as Adam Gilchrist (a sizzling 54 off 36 deliveries) and Australia got off to a flyer.

Clearly, the Australians didn?t wish to succumb to the small-target syndrome.

Just the other evening, Akram had brushed off a suggestion that the Australians are, in the mind, tougher. Steve Waugh?s response had been a laugh. Today, Steve literally had the last laugh.

?We lost to a team which played better,? acknowledged Wasim Akram, adding that having made the final ?was in itself an achievement.?

The latter comment, one assumes, was for the benefit of those who?re now bound to revive allegations that Akram won?t find pleasing.

Thanks to the elements, the potentially cracker of a match began 30 minutes behind schedule, but Pakistan?s innings ended even before the designated close!

Thirtynine overs and it was all over. Even a miracle wouldn?t have helped Akram realise the dream of his life.

Having opted to bat, a minimum of 225 is what he would have been hoping for. Pakistan finished with too few runs to give their bowlers any chance against an opposition boosted by two terrific wins in the run-in to the final.

Akram was praying the law of averages would trip Australia. Today, the Australians, now unbeaten in seven games on-the-trot, proved they are immune.

?Appalling batting. What was the need to go for shots so early? That?s not the way to handle the pressures of a big final,? Imran Khan, the only Pakistani captain to have lifted the World Cup, told The Telegraph.

A couple of good deliveries, juice in the Lord?s wicket, some impetuous shots. Each played a part. But the telling difference was the Australian catching.

Breathtakingly outstanding were Mark Waugh (Wajahatullah Wasti), Steve (Abdul Razzak) and Ricky Ponting (Saqlain Mushtaq). The truism that catches win matches came alive as probably never before.

Of course, Pakistan can (rightfully) claim Inzamam-ul-Haq became a victim of David Shepherd?s misjudgment ? Hansie Cronje and Inzamam now have something in common ? but who can they blame for the other dismissals?

Tentative for every minute of his stay, Wasti was the first to depart. The in-form Anwar then played on and Pakistan were quickly on the mat: Two down for 21. Down the order, even Moin Khan didn?t deliver. But he can?t every day, can he?

Doesn?t help to largely rely on two batsmen ? Anwar at the top; Moin lower down.

Akram himself played a poor shot, aiming to send Man of the Match Shane Warne beyond the Grace Gate. If it was desperation-induced, it showed how beaten the Pakistanis were even before their innings ended.

Warne was fantastic yet again, but the spell which set the day?s agenda was by Glenn McGrath ? his first, 6-3-6-1. Warne, incidentally, matched the Mohinder Amarnath (1983) and Aravinda de Silva (1996) feat of being adjudged MoM both in the semi-finals and final.

Predictably, Lance Klusener was voted Player of the Tournament (281 runs and 17 wickets). Our very own Rahul Dravid finished as the No.1 rungetter (461), even though India didn?t make the semi-finals. Among bowlers, the honour went to Geoff Allott and Warne (20 wickets each).

There wasn?t any award for the best captain. But, if there was one, Steve Waugh would have collected his second cheque and trophy of the day. Akram would have finished runner-up there as well.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 
Today?s forecast:Cloudy sky with one or two spells of rain.
Temperature: Maximum 33.6?C (Normal)
Minimum 26?C (1?C below normal)
Relative humidity:Maximum 97%
Minimum 65%
Rainfall: 5 mm
Sunset: 6.22pm
Sunrise: 4.54 am
 

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