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Relative calm prevails along LOC despite reports of LMG fire: FO

ISLAMABAD Oct 18 (NNI): Pakistan on Thursday said that its armed forces were maintaining maximum restraint along the LOC and working boundary despite reports of light machine gun fire from the Indian side.
Replying to questions by newsmen at his briefing in Islamabad Thursday afternoon, Foreign Office spokesman said since yesterday the situation has been more or less calm.
Referring to reports emanating from India of heavy shelling going on, the spokesman wondered as to why these statements are coming out. He said one reason could be that New Delhi wanted to cover up the embarrassment it suffered following movement of troops close to LOC and working boundary.
The spokesman however made it clear that if there is any other Indian design, Pakistan armed forces are fully prepared to meet any contingency. He said Pakistan is fully prepared to defend itself against any aggression.
To a question, Mr. Riaz Muhammad Khan said the US Secretary of State Mr. Colin Powell during his talks with Pakistani leadership had very clearly conveyed the impression that US wanted de-escalation and reduction of tension between Pakistan and India. He said Pakistan is in favour of de-escalation of tension with India. But he said it will not just be the attitude of Pakistan but India as well and hoped that New Delhi will sooner than later agree to the resumption of dialogue to address the core issue of Kashmir so that the two countries can have a tension free relationship with each other in the interest of the two nations and the region. He emphasised that Pakistan will never preach war.
As regards the statement by Secretary Colin Powel that Kashmir is central to relations between Pakistan and India, the spokesman said Pakistan has always maintained that it is at the heart of conflict and tension between the two countries. There is need to address this longstanding issue meaningfully.
Asked to comment on Indian Foreign Minister’s statement asking Pakistan to hand over what he called terrorist to New Delhi, he said this does not appear to be based on facts but part of sinter campaign by India to make propaganda against Pakistan to malign it. He said Pakistan has always opposed terrorism and has been cooperating internationally in the fight against terrorism. In the past Islamabad had handed over specific persons requested by various governments of Middle East and the United States.
The spokesman categorically stated that Pakistan was not pouring in any militants in occupied Kashmir. He said the Kashmir struggle is indigenous, more than eighty thousand Kashmiris have been martyred and the graveyards and flowers on them is ample proof of that. On the other hand, he pointed out that India was not allowing international organisations to see for themselves the atrocities being committed by occupation forces on the innocent civilians.
To another question the spokesman said Pakistan is happy that the United States has been sensitive to Pakistani concerns in economic areas and lifted all sanctions. The congress has passed the bill to lift remaining sanctions and with the approval of the President normal economic relationship between the two countries will be fully restored.
The spokesman said Pakistan has been supporting the idea of broad-based government in Afghanistan within the context of UN and OIC resolutions. He said the idea of prolonged war is in reference to war against terrorism. As regards the military operations being carried out in Afghanistan, it is Pakistan’s desire and expectation and the Americans also believe that it should be as short as possible as no body is interested in prolonging it. He said these operations are not directed against the Afghan people but the purpose is to bring those people to justice whom, the Americans consider responsible for the acts of September 11.
To yet another question, the spokesman emphasised that relief supplies must continue inside Afghanistan to help the displaced people and prevent them from entering Pakistan.—NNI s

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