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Press Conference by Shri Jaswant Singh, May 28th

Transcript of Press Conference by Shri Jaswant Singh,
External Affairs Minister
at 15:30 hours on May 28, 2002 [Transcript)

MS. NIRUPAMA RAO: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to this afternoon's Press Conference with the honourable Minister of External Affairs, Shri Jaswant Singh. The Minister will make a statement and thereafter, he will take your questions.

As we have stated before, please identify yourself while asking your question and mention the organization which you belong to.

SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Thank you ladies and gentlemen of the press.His Excellency Gen. Pervez Musharraf's television address of May 27 is both disappointing and dangerous. Disappointing, as it merely repeats some earlier assurances which remain unfulfilled till today, and dangerous because through belligerent posturing tension has been added to, not reduced. Evading altogether the central issue of Pakistan's promotion of terrorism, the General, unfortunately engaged instead in an offensive and tasteless revilement of India. A great pity this, for it contradicts his expressed desire for peace and mocks the expectations of most of the international community by flouting current international commitments against terrorism. Gen. Musharraf has disappointingly spelt out no measures for stopping this lethal export of terrorism from Pakistan. Mere verbal denials, about the Line of Control are untenable, for they run against facts on the ground.

Let the world recognize that today the epicentre of international terrorism is located in Pakistan. Terrorists targeting not just India but other countries too, receive support from state structures within Pakistan. The current war against terrorism will not be won decisively until their base camps inside Pakistan are closed permanently.

Gen. Musharraf has nevertheless voiced a desire for peace. It is in his hands to attain it. Let him simply fulfill the assurances that he has himself given all these months. India will reciprocate.

In the meantime the Government of India will continue to take such measures as are necessary.

QUESTION (MR. VIJAY NAIK, SAKAL PAPERS): You have described the statement of Mr. Musharraf as dangerous and disappointing. In the light of what you have said, do you see a possibility of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan? I say this because everybody today is talking of not only conflict but a nuclear conflict also.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: No, we are certainly not talking of it. When you say 'everybody', India has not talked of it. India is not talking about it now. I do acknowledge and I acknowledge it with some disappointment that Gen. Musharraf, and some of the Ministers in his Government, I might not name them, through various statements and interviews -- Gen. Musharraf for example in an interview to Der Spiegel - and others have spoken very casually about nuclearisation. This tantamounts to nuclearisation of terrorism. And in this we see an example of how promotion of terrorism and the threat of nuclear weapons is being held simultaneously. The international community has to take note of the seriousness of these two dangers. India has not ever spoken of nuclear weapons. India's policy in this regard is clear, unambiguous and explicit. It is - 'no first use'. And that remains the country's policy.

QUESTION (MR. RAKESH KAPUR, PUNJAB KESRI): Mr. Minister, you have just
said that the danger of a nuclear war might arise.
MR. JASWANT SINGH: No, I did not say so.

QUESTION (MR. RAKESH KAPUR, PUNJAB KESRI): You said that India's policy is clear and that we will not initiate war against anybody. But the biggest question that has arisen is, 'Hasn't the Kashmir issue gone back to the situation of 1947 and 1948?' Hasn't Kashmir become a tripartite issue?

SHRI JASWANT SINGH: If I have to give you the whole analysis, the entire Press Conference will have to be devoted to it.

QUESTION (MS. JYOTI MALHOTRA, INDIAN EXPRESS): Sir, you said right at the end of your statement that it is now in Gen. Musharraf's hand to attain this peace and that India would not hesitate to take these measures. What are these measures? What do we want from him?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I have said that it is really for Gen. Musharraf to implement, to act upon, what he has himself given as international commitments. Not simply assurances subject to India, it is international commitments. And they are not born of 1373. It is about abjuring violence, it is about completely stopping infiltration across the Line of Control, giving up terrorism as an instrument of State policy, disbanding terrorist training camps, and to cease financing and providing infrastructural support for terrorists and their organizations, also the whole question of the 20 Indian criminals and others who are taking shelter in Pakistan and their handing over. These are some things that have been spoken of for a very long time. It is really up to Gen. Musharraf to act on this because this is very much in the realm of acting against terrorism.

QUESTION: How much time are you going to give?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: It would be difficult for me to go into time specifics. Sufficient time has already elapsed in this regard.

Let me ladies and gentlemen, share with all of you the concern that India has. On the 1st of October 2001, the State Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir was attacked. We were then advised that there was going to be action on the part of the Government of Pakistan and there should, therefore, from India's side be restraint and patience. There was then 13th of December. In between, I do not want to go into other incidents that took place. On 13th of December took place an attack on the Parliament of India. Yet again we were told, 'Please exercise restraint.' On January 12, Gen. Pervez Musharraf made many statements. He took certain actions between 12th and 15th; some terrorist camps were shut down; certain organizations were banned; about 2000 people were arrested. Those camps have come up again. Of those 2000, you know very well how many have been released already. You know very well that the head of Jaish-e-Mohammed, Azhar Masood, lives in his own bungalow, and is paid Rs.10,000 a month by the Government of Pakistan. After the Karachi killings, some more arrests take place. Then comes Kaluchak. It is very important to realize that India cannot continue to be penalized
for its patience. When, therefore, you asked me about time, you are not being fair to the patience and restraint that India has already and consistently, well before October 1, continued to demonstrate. And after all, October 1 was barely 20 days after September 11.

QUESTION (DR. MANAS BANERJEE, DAINIK AGRADOOT, ASSAM): Both United States and … involved with India?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: No, I don't think so.

QUESTION: What is the limit of patience? The Prime Minister said at least five times in the recent past that he was running out of patience. How long is his patience going to last? Many people have begun to think that these are just words.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Yours is not a question. It is really a statement.

QUESTION: I am asking how long this patience will last?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: You are asking me to give an empirical measure of India's patience.

QUESTION (MR. AJAY KUMAR, AAJ TAK): You said that there are many camps in Pakistan in which training is being imparted to terrorists and terrorism is being exported from there to other countries including India, and that they should be destroyed.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I said that they should be closed permanently. I did not use the word 'destroy'.

QUESTION (MR. AJAY KUMAR, AAJ TAK): Yes. In this backdrop, is India thinking of taking any action from its side? What is India thinking of doing? What tough measures are being thought of?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: What tough measures am I thinking of? - The statement that I am giving in itself is a measure being taken. What tough measures will I take? - I do not think this in itself is a serious question. If I start detailing the steps - whether you call
them soft steps or tough steps - on television and in the press, then the steps would no longer have any significance.

QUESTION (MR. ANURAG TOMAR, SAHARA TV): In yesterday's speech of President Musharraf also it has been seen that Pakistan has been constantly rubbishing the evidence which has been provided by India saying it is not sufficient. Specifically if we were to mention December 13 attack and Kaluchak, it has been said again that evidence
being provided is kind of superficial and does not say much. What is the gravity and authenticity of this evidence as we have shared it with other countries also? What do they have to say about this?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Are you interrogating me for evidence, or are you corroborating what Gen. Musharraf has said as not sufficient? Have you seen the evidence?

SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Then how do you say what Gen. Musharraf has said is correct and it is not sufficient?

QUESTION (MR. ANURAG TOMAR, SAHARA TV): What we actually wanted to understand was the gravity and authenticity of this evidence as it has been shared by other countries also. What do thy have to say on this?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Gravity is for Pakistan to recognize. Authenticity is documentation, photographs, fingerprints, identification, names, parentage, address in Pakistan, provided to the authorities in Pakistan.

I must say that I am not a very avid television viewer and my favourite activity in the evening is actually not to watch foreign dignitaries give speeches on television. So, I take it as correct that what you say about General sahab - as you put it colourfully - rubbishing the evidence given. I don't know if he has actually rubbished it. Whether it was December 13 or it is now Kaluchak, the full facts were provided. Subsequently after Kaluchak, in Rajouri there is interrogation because there is now a terrorist who is apprehended and he has clearly said, I am from Kotli, this is my name, this is my address and this was the task that was given to me. This has all been provided. I am sorry that you share the General's views, but that is your freedom.

QUESTION: Mr. Minister, you have a habit of cutting short your replies. In order to preempt that, I would like to put my question in two parts. One is, what is your reaction to Gen. Musharraf's interview to the Washington Post before he made that speech? The other is, he has suggested that Abdul Gani Lone's murder is not because of anybody from
their side, that perhaps it is India who has done it. What is your reaction?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I will answer both. Be assured, I won't cut short my reply as you have apprehended.

So far as the interview to Steve Coll of The Washington Post is concerned, I read both Steve Coll's piece based on the interview and thereafter the excerpts of the interview. It is not the full interview it is only excerpts. The excerpts as I downloaded, ran to seven pages. Steve Coll is a very eminent journalist. He has served in this region. He knows the region very well. I cannot be not candid with you when I say that on reading the interview, I was gravely disturbed. I do not wish to go any further than that because whatever has been published as excerpts stand for themselves. What has been stated there speaks for itself. Unless you, ladies and gentlemen of the press, have all read it, it would not be proper for me to go any further than saying, I find it a deeply disturbing interview if those are only excerpts running into seven pages.

Secondly, the remark that you attribute to Gen. Pervez Musharraf about the late Abdul Ghani Lone is born of the same psychological mentality. I am saddened that for as heinous a crime as murder, Gen. Pervez Musharraf has found it necessary to play this kind of politics with it. I really do not wish to say any more than this.

QUESTION (MR. DEEPAK CHAURASIA, AAJ TAK): Yesterday in his speech, the
President of Pakistan has said that there are many organizations in India which are troubling the minorities and Scheduled Castes. He has mentioned Gujarat also in his speech. Does India see this as interference in its internal affairs? If Pakistan is crossing the limits of diplomatic courtesy, does India think of severing the diplomatic ties with Pakistan?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: You have asked me to comment on what the General sahab has said. It is not possible for me to comment on everything. I have said in my statement that the General sahab mentioning this in itself is saddening. Better leave it here.

Coming to the question of diplomatic relations between the two countries, there is no such question now.

QUESTION (MS. ANITA SALUJA, THE EXPRESS): How would you react to the recent missile testing by Pakistan?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I think the Ministry has already given a reaction to it and it seemed to have troubled the General a great deal. The Ministry has said that we are really not greatly impressed by these missile antics, particularly as they are based on either imported technology or acquired hardware.

QUESTION (MR. VINOD SHARMA, HINDUSTAN TIMES): If you have not heard Gen. Musharraf's speech, just now you said you did not watch television…
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I did not, actually.

QUESTION (MR. VINOD SHARMA, HINDUSTAN TIMES): Most part of Gen. Musharraf's speech, the first ten minutes, was focused on the domestic politics. He was trying to justify the referendum, he was trying to get some political parties to talk to him, etc. Do you think it is easy for India to deal with a leader who is not sure of his own ground in his
country? Can he really deliver on the demands that we are making out here?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Whether easy or difficult, my dear Vinod, we have to deal with the world as it is, not as it ought to be. Therefore, I deal with the Government of Pakistan as it is. I cannot wish a Government in Pakistan. That is for the people of Pakistan to decide. If Gen. Pervez Musharraf had spent some time of the television interview explaining his conduct, and the conduct of his officials in the recent referendum, that
is his and Pakistan's internal matter. So also the question of certain political organizations in Pakistan being banned or not banned. That is really their look out. Who is it that we have to deal with? We have to deal with the Government of Pakistan. We have always stood for democracy. We will be very happy if democracy returned to Pakistan.

QUESTION (MR. DEEPAK ARORA, NATIONAL HERALD): The Home Minister has talked about a different strategy to deal with cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. What is this different strategy? Is it going to be one of a proxy war, or war?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I am sure you don't seriously expect me to define war or have a discussion with you on alternative theories of warfare. But what my senior and distinguished colleague the Home Minister has said is, if one particular medicine does not work, then try another medicine. That is all that he has said.

QUESTION (MR. RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST): This week and the next week will bring two high profile foreign diplomats here to Delhi. Over the past couple of weeks certainly, officials in Washington, UK and elsewhere have been engaged in quite a bit of diplomacy on this front. From your point of view, have the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom been applying enough pressure on Pakistan?
Where is this breaking down? Are they, from your point of view, applying enough pressure? Or is that pressure just not being, shall we say, received by Musharraf?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: In regard to what you describe as high profile diplomatic visitors, India continues to receive diplomatic visitors. You suggest that the United Kingdom and the United States of America are applying pressure on Pakistan. Yes, we have also been told that pressure is being applied. You are enquiring of me whether I am satisfied with
the results of the pressure. I don't think it is my subjective satisfaction that ought to be of any curious interest by you. It is really what results we see on the ground. One of the results of what you have termed as pressure is today the three missile tests, yesterday's
speech. There are all kinds of other activities engaged in by the Government of Pakistan. It is really for the United Kingdom and the United States of America to assess for themselves as to whether their pressure is working. That is a stated objective of both these countries, which is, the fight against terrorism. And it is against terrorism that there should not be any deviation. That is for the United States and the United Kingdom to consider.

QUESTION (AKILESH SUMAN, RASHTRIYA SAHARA): Gen. Musharraf stated that infiltration across the border has stopped. You are continuously saying that terrorists and infiltration is going on. Why can't we declare Pakistan a terrorist state?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: One question you asked is whether the infiltration is continuing or not. The infiltration that happens does not happen for tourism; it happens for terrorism. When we say infiltration is continuing, what example should I give to you? The month of May is yet to come to an end. 14th May - Kaluchak. Infiltrator and terrorism. After that the Rajouri incident happened. Again infiltrators and terrorists. We know have definite information that it is continuing and that is why we are saying so.

Coming to declaring them as a terrorist state, they are describing themselves with their deeds. There is no further necessity for India to describe them.

QUESTION (MS. MAYA MIRCHANDANI, STAR NEWS): Yesterday in his speech President Musharraf talked about the attack on Kaluchak being committed by the people who want to destabilize Pakistan. What is your assessment? How much control does he actually have on these elements?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: You cannot have it both ways. You cannot have 98 per cent support of the people of Pakistan as I am informed Gen. Pervez Musharraf has. His own official information has conveyed that he has the support of 98 per cent in the referendum. With 98 per cent support, surely it cannot simultaneously be claimed that I do not have control or knowledge of what is happening inside Pakistan. Therefore, it is really
a question that Gen. Pervez Musharraf has to answer. I cannot answer with any accuracy in this regard when you ask me how much does the General's writ run. That is essentially what you are asking. Does the General's writ run inside Pakistan? Gen. Pervez Musharraf has time after time said that he does not only have full control, he also believes in unity of command. We are informed by all those who are allies of Gen. Musharraf that he is fully in control, that all agencies of State respond to him perfectly. Therefore, I am occasionally
intrigued by this simultaneous, though somewhat contradictory, assertion - "I am in control, and not in control when it comes to terrorism." Intriguing!

QUESTION (DR. AWAAD, MIDDLE EAST BROADCASTING CORPORATION): Did Musharraf leave in his speech any window of opportunity that you might feel it is really worth going for a dialogue, or really give him some time to see? Also, Pakistan has already given some Chinese wanted by China, some hardcore elements. What is your comment on this? Why can't India also have the same thing?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Pakistan has handed over to the United States of America criminals that the United States wants. You have shared with us that they have also handed over to the People's Republic of China the criminals that People's Republic of China wants. Not so for India. What am I to say? The facts speak for themselves.

You have enquired of me whether Gen. Musharraf has suggested a dialogue. India has never stood against a dialogue. We have always said we stand for dialogue we are ready to dialogue. You have to create a climate that is conducive for dialogue. You cannot put a pistol of terrorism to my temple with the finger on the trigger and say, 'Now talk to me, dialogue with me, or else I will press this trigger of terrorism.' It becomes very difficult for me to talk then.

QUESTION (GERMAN TELEVISION): You are saying India's patience is running out and there was enough time for Pakistan to do what you wanted them to do. Can you specify what steps you are contemplating? In other words, are you willing to risk a war? When you consider the steps for an answer to Pakistan are you willing to run that risk?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Please understand. You asked me, how much time are you giving? Then you enquired of me if I am ready to risk a war. I would really request you most earnestly to understand that we are already subject to a war. It is not as if India is not being subjected to war. The kind of proxy war that we have been subjected to for the last two decades almost does not fall into the standard classical pattern of warfare. The entire international community today is faced with the threat of terrorism. It has redefined conflict. As has often been pointed out, why after all did President Bush immediately after the September 11 attack on the New York twin towers say, 'A war has been declared against the United States. We are now at war.' It is a new form of warfare. So the question that you have asked me really begs the question. We have been facing a war on our soil, on our land, against our civilians for almost two decades! When you, therefore, ask me how much time to war, please understand!

QUESTION (MR. NILESH MISHRA, ASSOCIATED PRESS): Is there any possibility of a discussion between Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf in Almaty?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Almaty is some distance away yet both in time and in geographical terms. Personally, I don't see any possibility.

QUESTION (MR. BROOKE UNGER, THE ECONOMIST): If it becomes clear in the next few weeks that Pakistan had indeed stopped infiltration, will that alone be sufficient in the process of reciprocation?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: For those who have not heard the question, let me repeat it. " If in the coming weeks, 3 weeks-4 weeks, it becomes evident on the ground that cross-border infiltration for terrorism has been stopped, the camps inside Pak-occupied Kashmir have been wound up and not just wound up temporarily, shall we then be ready to reciprocate by some gesture." - I do not want to go into hypothetical or speculative answers but I can assure you that what I have said here in the statement itself. That is, if Pakistan were to act on the assurances that they have themselves given, then India shall reciprocate. But we have to have the action from Pakistan, an action that we can see on the ground.

QUESTION (MR. BROOKE UNGER, THE ECONOMIST): But how are you going to judge that?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Here, I must share with you that when it comes to India and Pakistan, I have actually often said this earlier. I think I have said it you also, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are born of the same womb. We know very well what happens in the other country. So, if a cosmetic gesture is made, we know that it is cosmetic. And if a gesture that is a commitment of a kind and has a permanence in it, we will know
that it is a commitment. It does not require any further elaboration.

QUESTION (MS. RASHMI SAXENA, THE WEEK, MALAYALA MANORAMA): You have said earlier that India has been advised that we should exercise restraint. My first question is - Who all have been advising India? And, secondly, what is their advice now?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Now, you want me to go in an alphabetic fashion all the countries that have advised us to exercise restraint… It is understandable that nations of the world when they see a conflict situation, will confer with the countries concerned and say please exercise restraint. Even when small clashes take place in the local square, such thing are said. So, I cannot give you a list of all the countries that have said so. But what they also simultaneously add is that they perfectly understand India's position in this regard.

QUESTION (MS. SHEETAL RAJPUT, ZEE NEWS): President Putin has said that he wants that there should be some kind of a dialogue between India and Pakistan. So is there any chance of this kind of a meeting taking place in a trilateral forum?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: No, there is no such possibility. I feel that what President Putin has said is being misunderstood. When President Bush was in Moscow he expressed an opinion that since Prime Minister of India as well as the President of Pakistan are likely to attend the meeting that is going to take place in Kazakstan, it would be better if they meet. He did not say that Russia will mediate in any manner between them. I do not know how you came to this conclusion. As I said in response to an earlier question, I do not see such a meeting between the hon. Prime Minister and the General sahab taking place.

QUESTION (MR. VINOD KAPRI, SAHARA TV): You said that you did not watch the address on TV. It may be true. My question is, how long will India keep on waiting for such kind of speeches? Or will it take some concrete action?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: First of all, in the preface to the question you have said that what I have stated is not true. Then what reply would I give and what would you get from it. So, do not say that. Action is being taken. It is not that action is not being taken.

QUESTION (MR. SOUMYA BANDOPADHYAY, SAMBAD PRATIDIN): After all these speeches, especially yesterday's speech which was disappointing and dangerous, is India finding it difficult to strike Pakistan because of the presence of U.S. forces over there?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: There is an assumption here. There is an assumption about striking Pakistan. I cannot go into any theoretical discussions of such assumptions. Besides, the physical presence of the U.S. troops in certain parts of Pakistan is clearly known to us and that has always been factored as one of the considerations. That is not a inhibiting factor in policy determinations.

QUESTION (MR. RAJEEV SHARMA, THE TRIBUNE): How do you react to Gen. Musharraf interfering in India's affairs when he spoke about Hindu terrorism? And, secondly, would you consider hauling Pakistan over coals in the United Nations over Resolution 1373?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: For the first part, the absurdity of the statement by Gen. Pervez Musharraf really merits no response whatsoever. Secondly, this rather colourful suggestion about hauling somebody over coals, I am not in the game of hauling anybody over the coals. 1373 stands by itself. 1373 speaks for itself.

QUESTION (MR. HARISH GUPTA, THE INDIAN EXPRESS): The Prime Minister has gone on record saying that it would have been better for India to have struck soon after the Parliament attack. Now it is almost five months after that. What exactly is the state of affairs now? Everybody in this country wants to know what concrete action you are taking. You are only saying things for so many months.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: No firstly, what the Prime Minister said is, his statement was in Hindi and it was translated into English somewhat inaccurately. He did not say that we should have struck, but that it would have been a better to take action then. You are recollecting only the first part of what he had said. He said, yes, that it would have
been better to have acted immediately after December 13 but the international community came to us and said, there is a much larger purpose being served, please exercise restraint. Therefore, we exercised restraint. That second part leads you on to what you have asked. For how long can India continue to exercise restraint? Now, I can say that India cannot continue to be punished for its patience. In specific terms, you will appreciate that it is not possible for me at all.

are taking?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: It would not be possible for me to neither share with you the concrete steps that Government of India will take nor the time table of the steps that it will take.

SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I will repeat the question. It is a variation of the theme of question that was asked earlier.

The question is, "Were Pakistan to take some steps - the second part is your own interpretation - in the next three to four weeks, would then we be ready to reciprocate? Secondly, 'Are we ready to wait that long?' Now, this three to four weeks is your determination. It is not the Government of India's determination. I have said clearly, India
cannot continue to be punished for its patience. But I have also said that if on the ground we find that action has been taken and it is irreversible action, then as I have said in the statement, were General Pervez Musharraf to act on his own assurances, then India will

QUESTION: In his speech of last night Gen. Musharraf said that he would reciprocate if there is aggression from India. He also said that they are not doing any infiltration. At the same time, this gentleman opens another front in Drass and Kargil like in 1999. Do you read any message in it? Heavy artillery of 133 mm guns and others are being used, it is
not just machine gun or LMG fire, from across the mountains.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Yes, I am aware of the developments taking place in the Kargil sector, particularly the Drass sub-sector. I am aware also of the artillery fire that has come from across the Line of Control. Does it run counter to what General has said? Of course, it runs counter to it. And every such incident is retaliated effectively through a fire
assault by India. I wish to make it quite clear. I have said it earlier, every such assault is immediately retaliated by India through a fire assault and shall be retaliated.

QUESTION: But, Sir, the question is what is the message the Government of India is receiving?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: It is a confused message that is being sent from Pakistan.

QUESTION (MR. SURESH BAFNA, NAI DUNIYA): Before his departure from Delhi, the Pakistani High Commissioner, Qazi said that out of the list of 20 terrorists given by India, only two Pakistanis were in Pakistan and none of the others is there in Pakistan. What do you have to say on this?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Denying what the High Commissioner has said does not befit me at a personal level. Since you asked me a significant question, I will answer it. This reply of the High Commissioner, he is not the High Commissioner now, is far from the truth. The Pakistan Government has full knowledge about who is where from that list of 20. Saying that they do not know where Azhar Masood is … And some of our travelers who have gone to Pakistan said that they have seen those people themselves. We have received confirmed reports of people from the list of 20 being seen there.

QUESTION (TIMES OF LONDON): You have been making statements. Will you take other measures to keep up the diplomatic pressure on Pakistan till you actually see some concrete action from President Musharraf?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Of course, it is not as if there is a vacuum of inactivity other than making statements. There is a constant diplomatic effort being made to persuade and to pursue what we are saying in regard to gaining the objective that we have set up. There must be an end to terrorism in this region.

QUESTION (MS. SHIVANI RAWAT, ASSOCIATED PRESS TN): Sir, Pakistan has been conducting these missile tests despite of international condemnation and on top of that there have been belligerent statements coming from there. Do you think that diplomacy is working here? What options are left for India?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: About the missile tests, as I have said, I would like to think that diplomacy is working. It is not that it is not working. It is not for me to go into a self-condemnatory mode otherwise. And as to what options we have, I cannot spell out the options. There are a variety of options that India has and it is not that other options have been shut out.

QUESTION (MR. RANJIT KUMAR, NAVBHARAT TIMES): Yesterday, President Musharraf has termed India as an irresponsible state. What is you comment on this?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I think the sheer irresponsibility of such statements… I recollect very well, I think it was in this very room that I had the occasion, because when the December 13 attack took place on our Parliament, President Pervez Musharraf called it a knee-jerk . I recollect sharing with all of you that. I'm personally used to the military malapropism of General Pervez Musharraf. It's a make believe world of Alice in Wonderland. Here is an attack on Indian Parliament, on the symbol of Indian sovereignty. The attack luckily failed. I don't want to go into any personal sense of, 'Well, I was in Parliament when the attack took place barely 20 feet away.' But if it had not failed? Please reflect on it. What is India to do, the attack having failed? Take it as just another routine demonstration of irresponsible terrorism? Is there any such thing as responsible terrorism? I am astounded at, in any event its military vocabulary, there are limitations on it.

QUESTION (MR. SAYEED ABBAS, REDIFF.COM): It is eight months now that India has been a member of the international coalition against terrorism. Can you kindly explain as to how much we have achieved? It is high time for India to fight on its own because we are facing the problem on our soil.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: There is one misperception that you have that we are either fighting through somebody else's assistance or shooting from someone else's shoulder. Please disabuse yourself of it. I have always asserted, said so many times, that India's fight against terrorism did not start on September 11 in New York, and it does not end
where others might say their fight ends. Certainly, because there is a principle involved here, we are a part of the international effort against terrorism, and not because we need crutches in our fight. What was achieved? Please reflect also on the fact that one very major factory of terrorism which had Talibanized Afghanistan, which worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to produce terrorists, that factory is now closed and those terrorists radiated outwards not simply to other parts of the world, also to India. I had said that having closed, the epicenter has now shifted to Pakistan. Therefore, when you ask what India has gained, India has gained very considerably in this very long haul of fight against terrorism.

SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I am a representative of the people. To a certain extent you also represent public opinion through your questions. I am not above public opinion. There is a great amount of anger among the people on this issue. It is not only a kind of anger, sometimes it appears that the dam of their patience will breach. The Government decides its policy by taking all these things into consideration.

QUESTION (MR. JAIRAM, IANS): You said a little while ago that if one medicine does not work, then we should try the other medicine. Is there a suggestion or admission here, that is, mobilisation of troops?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: No. That is your interpretation. I do not agree to that.

QUESTION (MR. VENKATANARAYAN): Sir, is war an option between India and Pakistan? If it is not, then don't you think that you might miss an opportunity by not accepting President Putin's suggestion for a possible bilateral meeting between Pervez Musharraf and Vajpayee and use it as a possible Tashkent II for some kind of discussions?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: No, there is no possibility of Tashkent II. As to the first part of your question, I'm afraid it is not possible for me to respond to it in a press conference.

QUESTION: The people of India are fed up with the everyday killing of innocent people. Is the Government of India still waiting for international approval to take action while innocent people are dying every day?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: No, you are mistaken to think that the Government of India is waiting for anyone's approval. Government of India does not work on anyone's approval. Government of India assesses the situation in its totality, and through its own assessment and reasoning acts in accordance with the best interest of the country.

Thank you very much.

© Scoop Media

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