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Wait and watch then talk with Pak, says Gen Malik

WASHINGTON, NOV 12: Chief of Army Staff General Ved Prakash Malik disfavours an early resumption of dialogue with Pakistan on bilateral i...

November 13, 1999

WASHINGTON, NOV 12: Chief of Army Staff General Ved Prakash Malik disfavours an early resumption of dialogue with Pakistan on bilateral issues, preferring a “wait and watch” approach in the light of the Kargil experience.

Replying to question, after his speech on `Security Challenges in the 21st Century’ at the Henry L Stimson Centre, a local think-tank, on Thursday he ruled out third party mediation in Kashmir, insisting that, “I don’t believe any role for outsiders. It should remain a bilateral issue.”

Asked as to what should be done to break the stalemate in the India-Pakistan dialogue, he said several major developments had of late taken place and “We need to wait and watch. We don’t want to repeat what happened after the Lahore summit” between Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and his then Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Apparently, he was referring to the outbreak of the Kargil conflict within three months of the Lahore summit in February last where the two countries decided to improve their ties.

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Gen. Malik spoke of an increase in the pattern of Pakistani support to the terrorists active in the state of Jammu and Kashmir after the Kargil conflict. The assistance was of several kinds, including helping the militants to infiltrate into the Indian territory.

He attributed the Indian Army’s creditable performance in the Kargil conflict to “righteousness.”

Replying to a question about the proposed modernisation of the Indian Army, he said this had nothing to do with the Kargil war which did show up “our weaknesses, bringing to the fore shortage of equipment and technologies.” India spends only about 2.2 per cent of the GDP on defence, which was not adequate. In terms of money, the modernisation would not cost much, he added.

He, however, said it was very difficult for the Army to get money from the government.

In reply to another question, Gen. Malik said though the progress on normalisation of relations with China had been slow, there was no tension on the borders. “Our relations had seen a bit of up and down after the may 1998 nuclear tests but things are getting back on the rails,” he added.

During the Kargil conflict, he pointed out, China made some pro-Pakistan pronouncements but subsequently they adopted a neutral stance.

He was also for military to military cooperation between India and the US. “We have to recognise our different capabilities. We can learn from each other and cooperate in the maintenance of international peace,” he added.

Spelling out India’s concept of credible minimum nuclear deterrent, he said, “with word minimum goes survivability. We have sworn to no first use and if retaliation becomes necessary, it had to have a time limit.”

He generally parried questions about the nuclear issue.

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