News

DATE=6/23/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-250991 TITLE=INDIA / PAK / KASHMIR (L) BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: INDIA'S ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF SAYS CROSSING THE "LINE OF CONTROL" WHICH DIVIDES KASHMIR BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN COULD BECOME A MILITARY OPTION. VOA'S JIM TEEPLE REPORTS THE GENERAL SAYS ANY DECISION TO CROSS INTO PAKISTANI TERRITORY WOULD HAVE TO BE TAKEN BY INDIA'S CABINET. TEXT: INDIA'S ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF, V-P MALIK, SAYS NO DECISION HAS BEEN TAKEN TO CROSS THE "LINE OF CONTROL," THE CEASEFIRE LINE WHICH DIVIDES KASHMIR, BUT IT COULD BE A MILITARY OPTION IF INDIA'S CABINET GIVES ITS APPROVAL. // MALIK ACT // THE CABINET MEETS VERY OFTEN AND WE ARE IN ATTENDANCE. WE REVIEW THE SITUATION ALL THE TIME, AND I BELIEVE IF IT BECOMES NECESSARY TO CROSS THE LINE OF CONTROL, AS FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN RAMINDER JASSAL SAID YESTERDAY, IN THE SUPREME NATIONAL INTEREST, THE MATTER WOULD BE TAKEN UP WITH THE CABINET. // END ACTUALITY // GENERAL MALIK'S STATEMENT IS THE FIRST BY A SENIOR INDIAN COMMANDER SAYING THE LINE OF CONTROL COULD BE CROSSED BY INDIAN TROOPS IF IT BECOMES NECESSARY TO DO SO. // OPT // THE GENERAL SAYS HIS TROOPS HAVE FOILED WHAT HE DESCRIBES AS PAKISTAN'S OVERALL MILITARY DESIGN TO SEVER THE KEY EAST-WEST HIGHWAY WHICH RUNS THROUGH INDIAN KASHMIR. INDIAN COMMANDERS SAY TROOPS ARE MAKING FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR AN ASSAULT ON "TIGER HILLS," THE LAST STRATEGIC PEAK OVERLOOKING THE HIGHWAY NOT IN THEIR CONTROL. COMMANDERS SAY THEIR TROOPS ARE ACCLIMATIZED TO THE HARSH CONDITIONS IN THE BATTLE ZONE AND ARE READY TO FIGHT WHAT THEY SAY ARE ABOUT 600 PAKISTANI TROOPS DUG IN ON HIGH GROUND WHO ARE BEING SUPPORTED BY SEVERAL THOUSAND "FIGHTING PORTERS" MADE UP OF AFGHAN MERCENARIES AND KASHMIRI ISLAMIC MILITANTS. PAKISTAN DENIES THAT ITS FORCES ARE INVOLVED OR THAT IT GIVES MILITARY SUPPORT TO INSURGENTS IN KASHMIR. // END OPT // MEANWHILE, INDIA'S HOME MINISTER, L-K ADVANI, SAYS INDIA SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR A WAR WITH PAKISTAN. MR. ADVANI, A CLOSE CONFIDENT OF PRIME MINISTER ATAL BEHARI VAJPAYEE, SAYS A WAR WITH PAKISTAN CANNOT BE RULED OUT BECAUSE, IN HIS WORDS, PAKISTAN IS A ROGUE STATE WITH SEVERAL CENTERS OF POWER WHICH MAKES IT BEHAVE IRRESPONSIBLY. (SIGNED) NEB/JLT/KL 23-Jun-99 9:27 AM EDT (1327 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .