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New Delhi shoots down Pervez?s peace floater

THE GOVERNMENT reacted frostily on Saturday to suggestions by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that India demilitarize several cities in J&K, saying any such decision "cannot be dictated by any foreign government".

india Updated: Jan 08, 2006 01:18 IST

THE GOVERNMENT reacted frostily on Saturday to suggestions by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that India demilitarize several cities in J&K, saying any such decision "cannot be dictated by any foreign government".

Coming just days before the foreign secretaries of both countries launch the third round of the bilateral composite dialogue process, the strong statement clearly indicates that India will not be dictated to in the face of terror threats.

The government had initially refused to react officially to Musharraf's interview to CNN-IBN's Karan Thapar, saying there was "nothing new" in his suggestions, but decided it needed to "clear the air".

In a statement, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said: "Any demilitarization or any redeployment of security forces within the territory of India is a sovereign decision of the Government of India and cannot be dictated by any foreign government."

Sarna dismissed suggestions of a "quid pro quo" saying, "The Pakistani President seems to suggest that there is a quid pro quo here, that is, if the towns of Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramullah are demilitarized, he would ensure that there is no 'militancy' there."

"What we are talking about here is terrorism and not mere militancy," Sarna said.

"As long as the security situation in J&K, and in other parts of the country, is adversely affected by the phenomenon of cross-border terrorism and violence perpetrated by Pakistan-based terrorist groups, the Government of India will fulfil its responsibility to safeguard the lives and security of its citizens."

"The Pakistani President has repeatedly given assurances that no part of the territory under Pakistan's control would be used for any cross-border terrorism against India," said Sarna.

First Published: Jan 08, 2006 01:18 IST