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Sinha's assertion incorrect, says Pak.

By B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD AUG. 28. Pakistan today joined issue with the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, and questioned his contention that infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) could not occur without the help of the Pakistan Army.

``The assertion is incorrect and self-serving. Mr. Sinha should have held the Indian Army, which is deployed in great strength along the LoC, responsible for any movement into Kashmir," a Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman said.

Though on the face of it, the statement appears to be contradicting the viewpoint of Mr. Sinha, it actually raises an important aspect related to cross-border infiltration. In fact, Mr. Sinha had raised the issue at Kathmandu.

In response to repeated assertions by Pakistan that there was no cross LoC infiltration and it was difficult for the Pakistan forces to ensure cent per cent sealing of the treacherous border, Mr. Sinha had asked Islamabad to come clean on the issue and explore possibility of joint operations by Indian and Pakistan forces.

Mr. Sinha had told the press at Kathmandu last week that if Pakistan had difficulty in stopping infiltration across the LoC, it should consider the suggestion made by India for joint patrolling. Responding to the remarks of Mr. Sinha, the Pakistan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Inam-ul- Haq, had indicated willingness on the part of his country to discuss the subject if India withdrew its troops.

``The Government of Pakistan is neither encouraging nor sponsoring any cross-LoC movement. In fact, measures have been put in place to prevent such movement. However, as has been clarified repeatedly it is not possible to completely seal the LoC. It is unfortunate that despite being fully aware of the situation on the ground, the Indian External Affairs Minister has chosen to score propaganda points," the statement said.

Pakistan Foreign Office said that instead of constantly ``blaming'' Pakistan, India should, as a minimum first step, put an end to its "reign of terror'' in Kashmir and allow the Kashmiri people to exercise their ``fundamental'' rights.

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