TOUGH TALK FROM PATRIOTIC PLANK
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New Delhi, May 31 : For the first time, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today described the Kargil confrontation with Pakistani regulars and Pakistan-backed intruders as a ?war-like situation??. On a day when both pounding by the Indian Air Force and close combat with the infantry continued in Batalik, Drass and Mashkoh valley, the Prime Minister accused Pakistan of trying to change the boundaries and extend their control within Indian territory beyond the Line of Control. Vajpayee?s statement comes on the same day he gave the green signal for a visit to India by Pakistan foreign minister Sartaj Aziz. It is obvious that India will talk tough so that it is able to bargain better with Islamabad. India feels the fact that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif volunteered to send over Aziz shows there is an ?implicit acknowledgement?? of having had a hand in the planned intrusion in Kargil. Vajpayee?s statement, viewed from the political perspective, also has the domestic scenario in mind. The undeclared war in Kargil helps to keep alive nationalist sentiments ? the patriotic plank has always suited the BJP. In the build-up to the elections, the BJP will be able to argue that it has always given national security a precedence in its agenda and in its government?s performance and justify both missile tests and the Pokhran nuclear blasts. Addressing a group of Delhi traders at his Race Course residence this morning, Vajpayee said that the country was facing a ?war-like situation?? and that the Kargil region is experiencing an ?invasion??. He said: ?Infiltrators, whose ranks include a large percentage of Pakistani army regulars, are attempting to change the frontiers of the country.?? Vajpayee said: ?Yudh jaisi paristhiti utpanna ho gayi hai...Ye kewal ghuspaith nahi hai. Ye ek tarah ka aakraman hai. Seema badalane ki koshish hai. Jamin hathiyane ka prayatna hai.?? The Prime Minister said it would suit both sides if Pakistan called back the infiltrators. But in Islamabad, there was no indication today of softening of stance. Sharif described the intruders as freedom fighters trying to liberate Kashmir from the clutches of the Indian army. In his address to the traders, Vajpayee sounded tough: ?If they do not withdraw the infiltrators we have enough resources to push them back and will do so,?? he said. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi met the Prime Minister today.