Agreement fails to halt Kashmir fighting
July 5, 1999
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.
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.
"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."
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.
U.S.-Pakistan deal calls for withdrawal of Kashmir fighters
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.