India agreed to resume bilateral talks after reviewing LoC situation
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: A high level review of the peace along the Line of Control (LoC) taken ahead of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit to Islamabad has led India to agree to restart a bilateral process with Pakistan.
The review was taken after the National Security Council Secretariat, the Intelligence Bureau, Military Intelligence and the Border Security Force disclosed that although the key militant camps in Azad Kashmir had not been dismantled as per Indian demands, Islamabad had taken steps to control infiltration.
Indian officials said President General Pervez Musharraf’s initiative for a ceasefire along the LoC had sparked a decline in the infiltration into Held Kashmir. It is for first time in the last three years that the number of infiltration attempts in last November and December along the border had decreased.
“Only 67 people infiltrated across the LoC in November 2003. This is contrast to the infiltration figure of 127 in November 2002 and 182 in November 2001,” Indian officials said. Arguing for a level of confidence and trust between the two countries, Indian Lt General Hari Prasad, commander of the Northern Command, counted two infiltration attempts made by militants after the ceasefire. “There was an attempt in the Poonch sector and another in Leepa valley where soldiers targeted infiltrators,” Gen Parsad said.
Indian officials said this time the infiltration was not supported by Pakistan. “Not a single bullet has been fired even by mistake,” a high-level source said. The assessment forms the background to an Indian offer to convert the current situation along the LoC into a “permanent ceasefire as proposed by Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha in Pakistan. The current thaw along the LoC has led Indian officials draw a parallel with the situation on the eastern borders. “In certain respects, the current situation along the LoC is like the situation along the China border,” an Indian official said.
There has been no acrimony along the China border for more than three years following an agreement on peace and tranquillity made between New Delhi and Beijing.
The silence along the working border in Jammu sector has led Indian security experts believe that the peace is not merely seasonal. During winter months starting from November the action would shift to the Jammu sector from the Kashmir Valley.
Meanwhile, Gen Parsad asked for some mechanism to hold the ceasefire permanent. “Some mechanism has to be there to make the ceasefire effective. “A mechanism has to be devised by both sides. But before that, the distrust has to be turned into trust,” said Gen Prasad.