Two or three issues. Firstly, we have been receiving questions about the senior official’s delegation that was to go to Pakistan. The delegation will be led by Shri Dilip Sinha, Joint Secretary in charge of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in the Ministry of External Affairs and will comprise of officials from Ministry of Home Affairs, Army Headquarters and the State Government of Jammu and Kashmir. The delegation will leave on October 28 for talks that are to be held on October 29.
Also, the Government of India welcomes the ratification of the new Iraqi constitution by the people of Iraq that will pave the way to the elections under the new Constitution. This is another step in Iraq’s transition to full sovereignty and democratic polity and towards enabling the Iraqi people to take full control of their destiny.
India hopes that political stability will soon return to Iraq and wishes the people of Iraq every success in their efforts to bring peace and progress to their homeland, and is ready to cooperate in the reconstruction of Iraq.
There is a press release which is already on our website. It is on the inauguration of the annual meeting of the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres which was inaugurated by the Foreign Secretary today.
Question: Have the relief camps become operational, and if they have, how many people have come across to our side of the LOC?
Navtej Sarna: To my knowledge relief camps have not become operational because as I explained to you yesterday we were waiting for concurrence from the Pakistani side because some infrastructural work had to be done before relief camps could become operational. As far as I know relief camps have not become operational, there is no question of saying how many people have come across.
Question: Are we ready from our side…
Navtej Sarna: Again this question I have answered at length yesterday. On October 25 we were to be ready, we were prepared to be ready, but we can only be ready, we can only start our work after we receive concurrence. We have not so far received any concurrence. A delegation is going, as I have announced, on October 28. We have made a proposal, Pakistan has made a proposal. These proposals are under consideration of the two Governments.
Question: So it will be only after they finalize…
Navtej Sarna: I think I can really not lead you to any further conclusions, I cannot make it plainer than this.
Question: No, I was saying how will they sort…
Navtej Sarna: If I knew I do not think the delegation would need to go.
Question: This delegation will discuss logistical arrangements or economic angle or…
Navtej Sarna: As I said yesterday both India and Pakistan have made specific proposals to facilitate such cooperation across the LoC. These proposals are being examined by the two Governments and will also be discussed in the talks. That shows you what the delegation is going to do.
Question: DGMOs of the two countries have talked to each other today…
Navtej Sarna: I am not aware of that. As I said our proposal has been made for relief centres. We have not got a concurrence so far.
Question: Today many Indian fishermen have been captured by the Pakistanis. Do you anything about it? Is there anything being done?
Navtej Sarna: We will have to check up on that because as you know we have been talking about this recently as part of our CBMs. So, we will have look at that.
Question: There is a curfew in Gilgit and there are reports that Pakistani forces are acting against the local population. Any comment on that?
Navtej Sarna: Yes, we have noted with concern reports in the Pakistan media about a curfew being imposed in Gilgit and action taken by Pakistani forces against the people in that region. There is a history of sectarian conflict in Gilgit and Baltistan regions of Jammu and Kashmir and of severe repressive measures being taken against legitimate protests and demonstrations. We hope that Pakistani forces will act with utmost restraint and observe international human rights standards. We will keep the situation under close watch.