`Pak. will step up vigil on LoC'

ISLAMABAD Jan. 28. The Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has said that Pakistan would step up vigil on the Line of Control (LoC) to ensure that there was no cross-border infiltration. At the same time, he has talked about the need for India to realise the difficulties involved in cent per cent sealing of the LoC in the face of "so many freelance terrorists trained for years''.

Gen. Musharraf made this candid confession to the Janata Party president, Subramanian Swamy, who is here at the invitation of Gen. Musharraf to "explore alternative policies'' for better relations between India and Pakistan. Dr. Swamy spent an hour with Gen. Musharraf at the Army House and they had a frank exchange of views in the backdrop of Indian charges of continuing infiltration and the freeze in the ties between the two countries.

Gen. Musharraf's statement on stepping up vigil on the LoC assumes significance in the wake of the recent statement by the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Nancy Powell, that Pakistan must stop infiltration and the remarks of the U.S. State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, that "infiltration across the LoC is somewhat up''.

Gen. Musharraf reportedly complained to Dr. Swamy about the statement of Ms. Powell and said that they reflected a lack of understanding of the ground realities.

"These problems are going on for years and years. Some of these fundamentalist elements were trained with the help of the U.S. during the Afghan war''.

According to Dr. Swamy, the Pakistan President cut short his visit to Gilgit to avail the opportunity to put across his viewpoint on the Indo-Pak. standoff and the steps he is prepared to take to normalise ties with India.

Significantly, the Pakistan Foreign Secretary, Riaz Khokhar, and senior officials in his Ministry were also present on the occasion.

Dr. Swamy said that Gen. Musharraf confirmed the decisions conveyed to him by Mr. Khokhar on Monday about the Pakistan's willingness to address the concerns of India in various areas including terrorism and trade relations.

In the course of the meeting, Gen. Musharraf reportedly took serious exception to the statement attributed to the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, that if Pakistan used nuclear weapons against India, it would be wiped out of the political map of the world.

The burden of Gen. Musharraf's exposition to Dr. Swamy in the context of India's concerns was that while he had taken "enormous risks" in taking on the fundamentalist lobby within his country, there was hardly any reciprocity from New Delhi.

He urged Dr. Swamy to create an awareness about the difficulties involved in reigning in the `jehadi elements' and the limitations of any apparatus in preventing cross-border infiltration, particularly in the absence of progress on contentious issues.

"India is putting me in a corner. I have to fight people of my own religion'', he told Dr. Swamy.

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