Would you like to comment on the Indian Express report today that India and Pakistan militaries can talk to de-escalate?
I think that article made it quite clear that India is still waiting for appropriate
and specific concrete action from Pakistan on the issue of infiltration, an end to infiltration, on the
dismantling of the infrastructure of terrorism, deliverance on the assurances and the pledges made by
Pakistan. There is a certain connection here for we have to see action on the ground before the issue of
de-escalation can be considered in depth.
Are there any concrete steps that Government of India is considering for de-escalation?
I don't think we are at that stage where we could be talking of pre-determined steps.
The quote that was reflected in today's Indian Express article spoke about no "coordinated tango of quid
pro quo" I think you should keep this in mind.
Given the fact that soldiers/jawans are allowed to avail leave, don't you think that it is a sign of de-escalation?
You would really have to address that question to the Ministry of Defence. I don't want to stray into areas which are beyond my normal sphere of comment or discussion. So please address that question to Ministry of Defence.
Both the Ministry of Defence and Army have said that infiltration has gone down significantly. Can you confirm that?
Certainly there is a decline and various agencies in the government have pointed to
that but as it has been said earlier here and by various spokespersons of the government we have to see
how visible, how established the trend is going to be over the next period of time.
What is the time frame?
No, I am afraid I can't give you a time frame on that. The judgment has to be left to the government to really to decide, once we are convinced, we are satisfied about it on the ground. When we talk of a time frame what is meant is that we will take appropriate steps at a time we determine to be the right time.
There general impression is that India has started taking steps to de-escalate.. Any comment?
I can't be expected to comment on that. These are some inferences you are drawing but
for me to comment I don't think I should be commenting on that. I have given you the position of the
government and there are certain pledges made by the government of Pakistan, firstly, that they will end
infiltration, secondly that there will be an end to cross-border terrorism, thirdly that there will be
dismantling of the infrastructure of terrorism and these steps would be not only permanent but also visible on
the ground. There was also been acknowledgement by the international community that these should be to the
satisfaction of India.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister has said that the US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld came to India with a proposal to deploy US military in Kashmir. Can you confirm that?
Frankly, I am not aware of any such proposal having been made by the Secretary of
Defence Mr. Rumsfeld while he was here.
Pakistan Information Minister has said that "Kashmir is not just a border dispute but an unfinished agenda of partition and that Pakistan would continue to give political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri freedom movement". What do you have to say on that?
I think the reference you made to the statement you just spoke of as having been made by the Information Minister of Pakistan is really a well-worn reiteration of what Pakistan has been saying long, I don't see anything new, novel or different in what the Information Minister of Pakistan has said in the statement that you have just referred to. This is yet another expression of the fact that Pakistan simply seeks to trot out this well-worn position and that there is very little vision for a peaceful resolution of this problem as far as Pakistan is concerned.
Do you have anything to say on the Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Lyngdoh's statement on the international observers in J&K forthcoming election?
That has been clarified today. As far as observers are concerned it is the decision of
the Election Commission. As far as previous elections have been concerned, there has been a system where
government observers, officials from various ministries and departments were sent to observe the elections. So
if you are talking of election observers it would apply to the system that has been followed in previous
elections in different parts of India.
What about foreign observers?
I think the reference was to individuals, foreign individuals, whether they are
journalists or public figures or people who have an interest in the area wishing to visit J&K during
the election period. But these people do not fall within the category of election observers as recognised by
the Election Commission to the best of my knowledge.
Have we officially communicated to the Pakistan government about the lifting of restriction on over flying India airspace?
Yes. In fact, the decision to remove the restriction on over flights of Pakistani
aircraft/Pakistani airlines was communicated to the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan on the very day that
this announcement was made to the media.
Was there any other procedural process to follow after that?
We did mention that there would be clearances required from the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation and the DGCA. These are formal clearances that would need to be applied for.