The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sinha puts Pak on firing test
- Indian troops to shoot at infiltrators
The recent past peace overtures must lead to a composite dialogue between the two countries to include all outstanding issues, including Kashmir. -Pervez Musharraf
The composite dialogue, when it starts, will be at the official level — joint or foreign secretary.
And then we will move on to the summit. -Kanwal Sibal

New Delhi, Nov. 28: India said today while it would not fire at Pakistani troops to maintain the ceasefire agreed to by the two sides on Wednesday, it would not hesitate to shoot at infiltrators from across the border. If and when that happens, India expects Pakistan not to return fire to maintain peace along the Line of Control.

“Infiltration is also violation of the LoC. And we would do everything to maintain the sanctity of the LoC,” foreign minister Yashwant Sinha told The Telegraph.

He added: “We hope that when the Indian security forces deal with such violations there will be no retaliatory fire by Pakistan.”

Sinha expressed hope that this time the ceasefire would hold. “But when I say this I mean that the Indian security forces would hold their fire against the Pakistani troops on the other side and not the infiltrators who are trying to sneak in.”

He pointed out that it was not the infiltration figure that was important, but to see on the ground whether or not Pakistan was taking steps to stop militants from crossing over.

If the next five to six weeks pass smoothly without any major violence in Kashmir and Pakistan takes verifiable steps to distance itself from militants based on its soil and active in Kashmir, there is a possibility that the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers would meet in Islamabad in early January.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee is scheduled to travel to Islamabad for the Saarc summit from January 4 to 6. Yesterday, the Prime Minister did not rule out the possibility of a one-to-one meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali.

Foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal wound down expectations. “I don’t think one should read too much into what has been said because no one in government has said that the resumed dialogue with Pakistan would be at the summit level,” he told a TV channel today.

Foreign ministry officials said India-Pakistan relations were fraught with “unpredictability” and, therefore, developments during the next month or so were extremely crucial.

The first test of Pakistan’s intention to normalise relations will occur during the civil aviation talks scheduled to begin in Delhi on December 1. Technical experts will discuss restoration of air links that were snapped in the wake of the attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001.

The first round of talks collapsed because Pakistan refused to give overflight facilities to India without Delhi’s commitment that in the future it would not take unilateral steps to snap air links.

If the aviation talks are completed successfully, India is likely to announce some more proposals to normalise relations, provided that Kashmir and the LoC are quiet.

In the winter months, the passes along the LoC get blocked by heavy snowfall and infiltration drops. It picks up again after the snow melts. But Indian officials said though infiltration reduces, it does not altogether cease.

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