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World - Asia/Pacific

Agreement fails to halt Kashmir fighting

Indian soldiers listen to senior officers giving them ordersfor another campaign in Amritsar on Monday

MESSAGE BOARD:
India-Pakistan relations

RELATED VIDEO
Villagers living near the fighting have had to flee the area. CNN's Kasra Naji is there (July 5)
Windows Media 28K 80K

Fighting continues in Kashmir, despite a Washington agreement. CNN's Satinder Bindra reports. (July 5)
Windows Media 28K 80K
 

July 5, 1999
Web posted at: 7:50 p.m. EDT (2350 GMT)


In this story:

Opposition in Islamabad

Indian puts onus on Pakistan

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



NEW DELHI, India -- India won't end its military offensive against Islamic guerrillas in the divided Kashmir region until it determines all the infiltrators have left Indian territory, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement Monday.

The spokesman said his government had been informed of an agreement reached Sunday between U.S. President Bill Clinton and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif calling for restoration of the 1972 Line of Control between the two countries.

"Our U.S. interlocutors have told us that 'concrete steps' referred to in the (Clinton-Sharif) statement means withdrawal by Pakistan of their forces from our side of the Line of Control in the Kargil sector," the spokesman said.

Indian began its offensive nine weeks ago and has systematically taken over positions held by the guerrillas in the mountainous territory. It says at least some of the guerrillas are Pakistani troops, a charge Pakistan has denied.

Text of joint Clinton-Sharif statement:

President Clinton and Prime Minister Sharif share the view that the current fighting in the Kargil region of Kashmir is dangerous and contains the seeds of a wider conflict.

They also agreed that it was vital for the peace of South Asia that the Line of Control in Kashmir be respected by both parties, in accordance with their 1972 Simla Accord.

It was agreed between the president and the prime minister that concrete steps will be taken for the restoration of the Line of Control in accordance with the Simla Agreement. The president urged an immediate cessation of the hostilities once these steps are taken.

The prime minister and president agreed that the bilateral dialogue begun in Lahore in February provides the best forum for resolving all issues dividing India and Pakistan, including Kashmir.

The president said he would take a personal interest in encouraging an expeditious resumption and intensification of those bilateral efforts, once the sanctity of the Line of Control has been fully restored. The president reaffirmed his intent to pay an early visit to South Asia.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir, which was divided between the two in 1972. In addition to the two rival countries, who have fought two wars over the Himalayan territory since they gained independence from Britain in 1947, the region is home to separatists who seek independence.

Opposition in Islamabad

Pakistan opposition parties blasted Sharif's agreement, saying the prime minister had "no clue what is happening in Kashmir."

"He has betrayed the entire national stand and the voice of the people," said Munawwar Hassan, acting head of the Islamic fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party in Pakistan.

Hassan's party and that of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), called for a debate in Parliament on the agreement.

Militants fighting in the Himalayan territory were equally adamant in opposing to the agreement.

"Pakistan may withdraw, but the Mujahedeen (holy warriors) will not withdraw," said Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba. "Pakistan should not accept any responsibility on behalf of the Mujahedeen because those peaks are not in Pakistani army or Pakistani government hands, but in our hands."

Saeed and Harakat-ul-Mujahideen leader Fazalur Rehman Khalil warned that Sharif would lose trust if he pressed on with his plans.

"No government has ever survived if its actions are damaging to the cause of Kashmir," said Khalil. "Nawaz Sharif's fate would be no different if he chooses to intervene in our affairs."

Indian puts onus on Pakistan

In India, reaction to the U.S.-Pakistan agreement was lukewarm and cautious. Arun Jaitley, a member of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's ruling Hindu nationalist party said that Pakistan was responsible for ending the conflict between the two countries.

"The joint statement underscores Pakistan's international isolation and places the onus on Islamabad to take concrete steps for the restoration of the Line of Control in accordance with the (1972) agreement," Jaitley said.

Vajpayee declined an invitation to come to Washington for Sunday's meeting, saying he couldn't make such plans on short notice.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Raminder Singh Jassal told a news conference Monday the there was no cease-fire under consideration at the time. India also rejected any attempts by a third party, such as the United States, to mediate the conflict between it and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, India announced Monday it had captured another peak, this one near strategic Tiger Hill overlooking a key national highway.

"With the capture of this feature, enemy observation of National Highway 1-A has been almost eliminated in the Dras sector," said army spokesman Col. Bikram Singh.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
U.S.-Pakistan deal calls for withdrawal of Kashmir fighters
July 4, 1999
Pakistani leader to discuss Kashmir crisis with Clinton
July 3, 1999
India encircles rebels on Kashmir mountaintop
July 2, 1999
Indian assault closes in on strategic Kashmir peak
July 1, 1999
Indian army makes Himalayan progress; secret talks revealed
June 30, 1999

RELATED SITES:
India Monitor
     •Kashmir
Contemporary conflicts: Kashmir
Kashmir News Reports
Pakistan Link
Kashmir Information Network
The Government of Pakistan
Indian Ministry of External Affairs
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