PM asks DGMO to visit Pakistan

NEW DELHI, JULY 6. In yet another initiative to set the tone of the India-Pakistan summit, the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, has instructed the Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) to make an unprecedented visit to Pakistan to come out with a road map for a durable peace along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Siachen area.

The DGMO, Lt. Gen. G.S. Sihota, has been asked to meet his Pakistani counterpart at an ``early date'' so that ``the processes for peace along the LoC and the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) can be strengthened further and stabilised'', a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

According to a spokesperson of the MEA, the DGMO would visit Pakistan prior to the mid-July Agra summit. The AGPL refers to the 110 kms of uncharted stretch between the LoC - the existing interim boundary between India and Pakistan in Kashmir - and the Siachen glacier.

By making this announcement, the Prime Minister had brought reduction of military tensions along the Indo-Pak. border in Jammu and Kashmir into sharp focus, sources here said.

Aware of the domestic and international concerns raised by the emergence of India and Pakistan as nuclear powers, the Prime Minister has proposed a security dialogue between experts of the two countries immediately. These specialists will brainstorm Nuclear Confidence Building Measures. Both sides have already accepted negotiations on improving their military communication links, nuclear doctrines and ways to prevent the accidental or unauthorised use of atomic weapons.

Key concerns

The proposed visit of the DGMO is expected to address two key security-related concerns. First, the DGMO is likely to discuss details which will ensure that infiltration across the LoC is reduced. Highly placed sources in the Government here stress that the reduction of the infiltration into Kashmir is of prime concern to India during the summit. In case cross-border movement of militants reduces, the Indo-Pak. agenda has a better chance of acquiring greater substance, especially in the economic arena. Reduction of infiltration is also seen here as the key to encouraging India to trim its forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

Second, the DGMO's visit is likely to initiate regular exchanges between the armed forces. Sources pointed out that India, to begin with, is likely to urge meetings between the alumni of the pre-partition Indian Army. Visits to pre- independence institutions such as the Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), the Indian Military Academy (IMA) and regimental headquarters which echo the British era cannot be ruled out.

Possible exchanges between the militaries also has operational ramifications. By encouraging inter-personal contacts as well as transparency, there is better chance that the two sides will stick to CBMs which may be negotiated in the future, the sources said. Besides, there is a view emerging in the Government that greater military-to-military contacts will encourage a better appreciation in India of the army-dominated Pakistani political system.

The visit of the DGMO is likely to result in discussions on the Siachen glacier. After internal deliberations, the Government may be veering round to the view that the discussion with Pakistan on Siachen cannot be separated form a larger debate on the LoC.