5,000 troops pulled out from J&K
New Delhi, February 6 Liveindia.com
In an apparent gesture to Pakistan to further come forward with confidence-building measures (CBMs), the government has allowed the Army to move a brigade (about 5,000) troops from Jammu and Kashmir following “much improvement” in the situation there.

While there had been reports about a possible back movement of troops, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today confirmed it on the sidelines of a seminar being conducted to mark the 56th anniversary of the Territorial Army. He said there could be more “redeployment” if violence further decreased.

Reports suggested that the total number of troops which could be moved out of the state over the next few weeks could be as much as 12,000.

“It is not withdrawal but redeployment of forces from Jammu and Kashmir to the North-East as the violence level has come down,” he told reporters. This is the second time that India has pulled out troops from Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, the troops had been redeployed following an announcement made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2004 before his visit to the state.

To queries whether the exercise was timed to coincide with the visit of US President George W. Bush to the country, Mr Mukherjee said it was a routine exercise. “The redeployment is a regular exercise undertaken after review of the situation in the state. Last year, we had reduced troops voluntarily.”

The Chief of Army Staff, Gen J. J. Singh, said a brigade had been moved out from the south of Pir Panjal and redeployed at locations in Darjeeling and Kalimpong in the North-East.

Further de-induction could take place if there was improvement in the situation in the state, he said, adding that more forces, which had been shifted from the frontier region of Ladakh to the valley, had also moved back. 

The General, however, clarified that the movement of troops out of the state was nothing but adjustment. “We had moved a brigade level force from 27 Mountain Division located in Kalimpong in Darjeeling district during Operation Vijay and these formations have shifted back to restore the balance,” he said.

The Chief of Army Staff said the exercise had been undertaken after a comprehensive review of the situation in the state. However, he pointed out that there would be no lowering of guard in the state.

“There would not be any lowering of guard. We have force levels in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure maximum flexibility in the conduct of counter-insurgency operations,” he said.

He added that the force levels could always be decreased and increased in short time, depending on the situation. Though the Army, citing operational security, does not give out the number of troops deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, estimates put it between 30 and 45 brigades.

India rejects Pervez proposals on Kashmir

New Delhi, January 18
Pakistan today formally presented President Pervez Musharraf’s “out-of-the-box” proposal on demilitarisation of Kashmir which India disposed, saying that New Delhi wanted to be “more ambitious” than demilitarising just three cities of Kashmir and counter-proposed to make the Line of Control as a Line of Friendship.

As for Gen Musharraf’s other Kashmir-specific idea on self-governance, which he and other Pakistani leaders and officials have been making through the media, India outrightly rejected it and virtually told Islamabad that it was Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Northern Areas which needed self-governance, not Jammu and Kashmir which has had duly elected governments for decades.

At the two-day Foreign Secretary-level talks which concluded this evening, the Indian side apprised the Pakistanis of its viewpoint that confidence building measures (CBMs) were integral to finding a solution to the Kashmir issue and the two were not in different compartments. The Indian Foreign Secretary, Mr Shyam Saran, while briefing the media said he reiterated to the Pakistani side Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that anything short of redrawal of boundaries or territorial readjustments, India was committed to whatever was required for free flow of people, goods and ideas on either side of the LoC .

In response to a question from this correspondent on India’s response to Pakistani proposal of non-deployment of strike formations of the two countries’ armies on their borders and the LoC, Mr Saran said the Indian approach was more ambitious. “We go a step further than that. We want the LoC to become a Line of Friendship and the international border to be a border of peace and tranquillity.”

Mr Saran was of the view that the peace process had not reached a point of stalemate and there was certain progress. He pointed out that the Indian High Commission in Islamabad issued 90,000 visas to Pakistanis in the year 2005 in comparison to 60,000 in the year previous to that.

The two sides reiterated their well-known positions: that India will not tolerate continuance of terrorism from the Pakistani side and that Pakistan will not tolerate interference in its internal affairs, a reference to Indian reaction on Balochistan.

During the talks, the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan commenced the third round of talks under the Composite Dialogue framework and discussed issues related to “peace and security including CBMs” and “Jammu and Kashmir”. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to move forward the peace process in a meaningful way during the third round and maintain its momentum. 

A joint statement issued at the end of the two-day talks said the two Foreign Secretaries agreed to mandate the two experts groups to continue consultations on security concepts and nuclear doctrines to develop measures for confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields aimed at avoidance of conflict. 

They also agreed to consider the following: 

Continue discussions with a view to finalising an agreement on “reducing risk of nuclear accidents or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons”, on which a draft has been presented by India;

Conclusion of an agreement on prevention of incidents at sea in order to ensure safety of navigation by naval vessels, and aircraft belonging to the two sides. The Pakistani side indicated that they will present a draft of such an agreement;

Elaborating, consistent with its intent, the agreement reached on no development of new posts and defence works along the LoC. The Indian side handed over proposed elements;

Modalities for the conduct of already agreed monthly flag meetings between local commanders at the selected sectors. Both sides handed over suggested modalities.

The two Foreign Secretaries had a detailed exchange of views on Jammu and Kashmir and agreed to continue the sustained dialogue in a purposeful and forward looking manner to find a peaceful and negotiated final settlement. 
“The Foreign Secretaries noted with satisfaction the opening of the five crossing points across the Line of Control, and hoped that the process of promoting greater interaction between the divided families would get further impetus,” the joint statement stressed. The two sides reiterated their commitment to start a bus service between Poonch and Rawalakot and a truck service on the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar route for trade in permitted goods “as soon as the infrastructure damaged during the October 2005 earthquake is restored.”

In addition, the Indian side proposed Jammu-Sialkot and Kargil-Skardu bus services with the hope that these could be operationalised at an early date.

Both sides also agreed to hold early meetings of the technical level working groups of the joint commission on agriculture, health, science and technology, information, education, I.T. and telecommunication, environment and tourism so that they can report their progress to the Joint Commission. 

The Foreign Secretary of Pakistan called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this evening.

Pak, India exchange lists on nuke installations
Islamabad, January 1
Pakistan and India today exchanged lists of nuclear installations under a special agreement that prohibits Islamabad and New Delhi from attacking each other's nuclear facilities.

"The Governments of Pakistan and India today exchanged lists of their respective nuclear installations and facilities in accordance with the Article II of the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks Against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between Pakistan and India of December 31, 1988," a Foreign Office statement said.

Mr Zaheer A. Janjua, Director, India Desk in Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, handed over the list of Pakistan nuclear installation and facilities to Sibi George, First Secretary, political of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad this morning, it said.

The Indian side handed over their list to Muhammad Khalid Jamali, First Secretary of the Pakistan High Commission at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi around the same time. The statement did not give any details of which installations and facilities are mentioned in the lists.

Under the accord, both countries annually exchange fresh lists, containing locations of nuclear installations, on January 1st of every year.

Even at the height of tension three years ago, both countries exchanged information on the nuclear installations and demonstrated their commitment against attacks on such facilities. 

According to the agreement signed on December 31, 1988, and enforced on January 27, 1991, India and Pakistan have to inform each other on January 1 every year of the nuclear installations and facilities to be covered by the agreement.

The first such exchange of lists took place on January 1, 1992. The list usually includes civilian nuclear power plants and gives the exact location of each.

The exchange of list comes two weeks before the two sides will hold third round of their peace talks in New Delhi. Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan will lead Pakistani side in the two-day talks beginning January 17.

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