October 18 1971

Warning by India as Yahya suggests ‘mutual withdrawal’

By Our Foreign Staff

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The Indian Defence Minister, Mr. Jag Jivan Ram, gave a warning yesterday that if war were thrust on India, she would not withdraw from captured Pakistani cities. But there were reports from Karachi that President Yahya Khan had suggested that both sides withdraw from the frontier. The warning from Mr. Ram came as authorities in the Punjab, bordering West Pakistan, were reported to have tightened civil defence measures.

Mr. Ram speaking near Julundur in northern India, about fifty miles from the frontier, said Indian forces would not pull back until the East Pakistani crisis was solved. “India will not submit to world pressure in this regard,” he said. Referring to reports that civilians were being evacuated from the West Pakistani cities of Lahore and Sialkot, he said : “If war is thrust on us by the Pakistani military junta, our forces will march forward and occupy these cities. This time we will not withdraw from the occupied Pakistani territory, come what may.” He said, President Yahya had begun making threats of war against India because guerrilla forces fighting for an independent Bangladesh were gaining ground. “We are fully prepared to meet such threats even though we know barking dogs seldom bite,” Mr. Ram said.

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