Tuesday, Nov 25, 2003
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By Amit Baruah
Welcoming Mr. Jamali's announcement, New Delhi, however, said that in order to establish a full ceasefire on a durable basis, there must be an end to infiltration from across the Line of Control.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesman said the Government of India had also proposed a ceasefire along the Actual Ground Position Line in Siachen. He welcomed the Pakistani decision to work for an expansion of the communication links proposed by India on October 22. "We now propose immediate technical-level talks for early implementation of these proposals," the statement added.
Asked whether India's desire to respond positively to the Pakistani offer meant that New Delhi too would hold its fire from Id, the spokesman responded: "I am not sure as to when what comes into effect, but we will respond positively to this..."
Providing an explanation for the phrase in the statement that India would "respond positively" to Mr. Jamali's announcement, a senior External Affairs Ministry official said that once the Pakistani ceasefire came into effect, India too would do the same. "If they stop shelling our positions on the LoC, we will do the same," the official said, hoping that covering Pakistani fire for infiltrators trying to cross the LoC would also be ended.
According to the official, the Government was clear that for the ceasefire to hold, to be durable, infiltrationl had to be ended. As far as transport links are concerned, the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, had proposed on October 22 a new rail/bus link between Khokrapar (Sindh) and Munabao (Rajasthan), a ferry service between Mumbai and Karachi, a Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, linked talks to resume the Samjhauta Express if Pakistan agreed to restoring civil aviation links and increasing the number of buses on the Delhi-Lahore route. The Ministry of External Affairs seems to believe that the litmus test of Pakistani intentions as far as communication links are concerned will be at the coming talks between officials dealing with the civil aviation on December 1-2 in New Delhi.
Addressing the India Economic Summit, organised by the CII and the World Economic Forum here, the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, said that India had responded to Pakistan's offer in a ``very very positive manner''.
``We said our troops will respond to a ceasefire along the Line of Control. In fact, we want the ceasefire to extend beyond the LoC into the glaciers of Siachen,'' he said.
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