After a week of rising tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, Pakistan's military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, telephoned India's prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, tonight to ask him to resume negotiations they started in July in the Indian city of Agra, Pakistan's state-run news agency reported.
General Musharraf said, as he always does, that the talks should focus on Kashmir, a land that both nations claim and have fought to control for more than half a century. Mr. Vajpayee replied, as he always does, that talks could not be productive if they only concerned Kashmir, according to Press Trust of India.
During their 15-minute conversation, the general offered his condolences for the 38 people killed a week ago in a terrorist attack on the Legislative Assembly in Srinagar, the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
But Mr. Vajpayee sharply replied that groups committing terrorist acts against India were operating from Pakistan and that Pakistan had neither stopped them nor arrested them for their crimes.
Public fury has mounted in India since people who said they were from Jaish-e-Muhammad, a radical Islamic group based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack in Srinagar. Though the group denied responsibility a day later, Indian officials and some Americans, as well, believe the group did it.
When President Bush called Mr. Vajpayee on Sunday, hours before allied airstrikes on Afghanistan began, Mr. Bush said the United States was working toward adding Jaish-e-Muhammad to the list of terrorist groups whose assets were to be frozen in the United States, American officials said.
Pakistan denies that it supports such groups and denounced the attack in Srinagar as a terrorist outrage meant to malign Kashmiris fighting against Indian rule.
General Musharraf said today at a news conference that the conflict in Kashmir ''cannot be identified as terrorism. There is a freedom struggle going on in Kashmir.'' In a briefing this afternoon, Nirupama Rao, the spokeswoman for India's Ministry of External Affairs, countered the general's characterization with India's position that Kashmir was an integral part of India.
Secular, but mainly Hindu, India maintains that Kashmir, its only Muslim-majority state, is the proof of the nation's identity as a nation of all faiths, while Islamic Pakistan says the Kashmiris should have the right to join Pakistan.Continue reading the main story