Army commanders have been given “full operational independence,” the Congress said on Monday even as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said if ceasefire violations on the Line of Control continued, India should give its neighbour a fitting response.
Stressing that India was firmly against any third party mediation on the Kashmir issue, a demand raised by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit recalled the terms of the 1972 Shimla Agreement that, he said, had underscored the fact that any issue between the two countries has to be resolved bilaterally. “No third individual, country or force can come in between, nor we will allow it to come,” he said.
Responding to the strong line taken by Mr. Abdullah, the Congress spokesperson said: “If the Chief Minister has some suggestions, it is better he gives them to the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister. The Defence Minister had stated some time ago that full operational freedom has been given to local commanders [of the forces].”
Mr. Dikshit’s response came shortly after Mr. Abdullah said India could not be at the “receiving end” of unabated ceasefire violations and should “respond in kind” if they persisted. At the meeting between two Prime Ministers in New York last month, Mr. Abdullah recalled, Manmohan Singh was forthright in putting across India’s concerns.
Commenting on Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s plea for U.S. intervention in resolving the Kashmir dispute, he asked: “Are the repeated ceasefire violations taking place at the behest of Pakistani PM or are they taking place as he does not have control over the situation?”
Simultaneously, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said on Monday that Pakistan must realise that certain historical wrongs had been committed and one of them was its occupation of Indian territory. He recalled that a unanimous resolution of the Indian Parliament, adopted in 1994, said these territories must be returned to India, and that any attempt to go beyond the Shimla Agreement was not “an appropriate step in either substance or spirit.”
He also rejected the demand for U.S. intervention, saying, “There never will be a case for any third party mediation in J&K.”