Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The joint statement issued in Washington after the meeting between US President Clinton and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif talks about restoration of the line of control in accordance with the Simla Agreement. Implementation of this would mean that Pakistan has to withdraw its troops from the Indian side of the line of control. If Pakistan acts on this, it will be a welcome step.

However, the other aspect of the joint statement will cause serious concern in India. The joint statement is a graphic illustration of how far the United States has become an intervenor and de-facto third party on Kashmir which should be a bilateral issue concerning India and Pakistan.

There are formulations in the joint statement such as, "It was agreed between the President and the Prime Minister that concrete steps will be taken for the restoration of the line of control in accordance with the Simla Agreement". This is followed by an assurance that the US President will "take a personal interest in encouraging an expeditious resumption and intensification of its bilateral efforts".

A careful reading of the statement reveals that nothing is spelt out about Pakistan withdrawing its troops from across the line of control. The Vajpayee government should not project the joint statement between the USA and Pakistan as a major victory for India. Such an approach will legitimise US intervention in the Kashmir issue. Despite the Indian Prime Minister expressing his inability to visit Washington at the request of Clinton, it is evident that the Vajpayee government has gone along with the new role being played by Washington in Indo-Pakistan affairs.

For India, "restoration of the line of control" can only mean the complete removal of the Pakistani intruders in all the areas across the line of control. It is the success of the ongoing military operations towards this aim which guarantees the sanctity of the line of control. Any talks to be conducted between India and Pakistan, after the intrusion ends, cannot be under the auspices of the United States or with any third party role.