Pakistan says joint border patrol not to work. Indian envoy expelled on spying charge

Pakistan Wednesday cold-shouldered an Indian proposal for joint patrolling of the Line of Control in Kashmir, but stopped short of rejecting it outright.

"The proposal is nothing new. Similar proposals have previously been tabled in regard to the International Boundary. Given the state of Pakistan-India relations, mechanisms for joint patrolling are unlikely to work," said the Foreign Office spokesman.

In response to a question, he said: "We have seen an Indian proposal for joint monitoring of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani and Indian troops. The proposal is not new."

The Indian and Pakistani forces are monitoring and patrolling their respective sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir, the spokesman observed, noting that UNMOGIP already had a mandate to monitor the LoC. "It may be expanded to perform this role more effectively. Pakistan has also expressed its willingness to accept neutral monitoring of the LoC."

India's proposal has not yet reached here through official channels. It is expected that during the upcoming visits of US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage to Pakistan and India, monitoring of the LoC would be a main issue they would discuss with host governments. The US is said to be ready to lend technical know-how and gadgetry for effective monitoring of the border. However, Pakistan did not completely rule out any discussion on the Indian proposal. The spokesman said: "Finally, if India is serious in making such proposals, it should convey these formally to Pakistan. All proposals and counter-proposals can be discussed as soon India signifies its willingness to resume a comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan."

Reports from Almaty said that India had Wednesday suggested to Pakistan joint monitoring of their tense border in disputed Kashmir, hoping that such a move would help bring about de-escalation between the two countries. The proposal, however, failed to evoke a positive response from Islamabad.

At a news conference in the Kazakh capital city, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said his proposal for joint patrols would lower the present tension spawned by the stalemated presence of a million troops deployed across the border.

His country wanted to move away from confrontation to cooperation, claimed the prime minister, who defied growing world pressure by refusing a day earlier to meet Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on the sidelines of a security conference CICA.

Vajpayee stressed the South Asian neighbors should work together to patrol their common border. The exercise, he said, would help judge Pakistan's claim that cross-border infiltration into Indian-occupied Kashmir had stopped.

Indirectly spurning Islamabad's call for international checks on both sides of the boundary, Vajpayee ruled out third-country involvement in verifying allegations of cross-border movement. Pakistan's Foreign Office had already proposed the stationing of UN personnel on both sides of LoC and the working boundary to check on the Indian charge. A mechanism for joint patrols could be evolved if the Pakistan government stopped backing infiltrators, he said, saying the issue had been discussed earlier and the two nations could agree on the proposal. He also rejected efforts by Pakistan to involve other countries in resolving the dispute over Kashmir. "We do not think this is necessary," he said, adding Islamabad and Delhi could find a way out of the Kashmir problem through mutual dialogue.

Meanwhile, Pakistan on Wednesday ordered the expulsion of Indian High Commission staffer Kulwant Singh on spying charges, a Foreign Ministry statement said. The government has declared Kulwant Singh "persona non grata on account of his involvement in activities not compatible with his official status", the statement read.

"Kulwant Singh was intercepted by security authorities while receiving sensitive documents from a Pakistani contact" on Saturday, it said. The statement further said that Kulwant's activities were incompatible with his official status as defined in the Vienna Convention of 1961 on Diplomatic Relations. "The Indian diplomatic mission in Islamabad has been informed about the decision and the official would leave Pakistan within a week," the statement issued by the Foreign Office stated. He was also intercepted when he tried to visit Lahore without observing the normal rules set for the staff members and diplomats of the embassies and high commissions in Islamabad.

The Indian High Commission has been informed that the official should leave Pakistan within seven days as provided in the Bilateral Code of Conduct signed between the two countries in August 1992.

Safiullah Gul PRAVDA.Ru Pakistan