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World - Asia/Pacific

As Kashmir fight continues, meeting reportedly sought with President Clinton

June 27, 1999
Web posted at: 4:47 a.m. EST (0947 GMT)


In this story:

'We are not war mongers'

Role of Kashmiri militants in question

RELATED STORIES, SITESicon



KARACHI, Pakistan (CNN) -- As India and Pakistan continued their most serious confrontation in nearly 30 years, efforts were being made to arrange a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and U.S. President Bill Clinton to discuss the conflict in Kashmir, Pakistan's army chief said.

India launched an air and ground offensive on May 26 to expel what it calls Pakistan-backed infiltrators from the strategic heights in Kashmir.

"There are a lot of contacts going on," the official APP news agency quoted Chief of the Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf as telling local reporters in Karachi on Saturday.

The United States and other Western nations have repeatedly urged Pakistan to withdraw hundreds of guerrillas occupying strategic peaks in the north of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Musharraf was speaking after two senior U.S. officials met him and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The meetings occurred as Washington pointedly blamed Pakistan for supporting the infiltrators across the military Line of Control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

"They (Americans) have their own opinion and they forwarded it, while we gave our point of view," Musharraf said. "We have the will to withstand all pressures."

'We are not war mongers'

Islamabad says it gives no more than moral and political support to Kashmiri separatists and accuses India of heightening tensions. It has asked Washington, an old Cold War ally, for a "more balanced" approach to the conflict.

Asked if another war with India was imminent, Musharraf said: "No, war is not imminent."

"We are peace-loving people and we are not war mongers," he said, but added that Pakistan would respond very strongly if a war were imposed on it.

"I am sure India also does not want war," he said.

Role of Kashmiri militants in question

Musharraf said the Clinton-Sharif meeting would aim to resolve both the conflict in the Kargil and Drass sectors as well as "the core issue of Kashmir," over which India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since 1947.

"Kashmir is a big political issue and the tactical military issue of Kargil should be tackled simultaneously," he said.

Musharraf denied charges that the Pakistani army was involved in the guerrilla occupation of the peaks overlooking a strategic Indian highway and said Kashmiri militants in India were fighting their own war.

"Mujahideen (holy warriors) have their own dynamics and it is purely an indigenous activity of Kashmiris," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Pakistan's prime minister rallies troops at Kashmir front
June 24, 1999
India says offensive could expand into Pakistan
June 23, 1999
Fighting in Kashmir creates Himalayan ghost town
June 23, 1999
India gears up to recapture strategic mountaintop
June 22, 1999
India captures peak, prepares to move against last guerrillas
June 21, 1999
India captures outpost in Kashmir, as G-8 urges cease-fire
June 20, 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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