Pakistan blasts 'barbaric' attack on patrol plane
India: No risk of war, but Kashmir talks must wait
August 12, 1999
From staff and wire reports
KARACHI, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan on Thursday buried the 16 crew members of a naval reconnaissance plane shot down by India amid new fears of war between the nuclear-armed rivals.
Sailors carried the flag-draped caskets during the funeral at a Pakistani naval base. Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called India's attack on the aircraft "cowardly" and "an act of open aggression."
"It's a barbaric act. India has gunned down a plane that had no capability of doing any anything in self-defense," Sharif said.
Both India and Pakistan claim the unarmed, French-built patrol plane was inside their territory when Indian warplanes shot it down Tuesday. Wreckage of the aircraft was recovered on both sides of the border, near a disputed stretch of marshland near the Arabian Sea.
Wednesday, Pakistan fired missiles at Indian aircraft approaching the crash site, but it denied an Indian charge that the missiles were fired on helicopters carrying journalists to the area.
Sharif said Thursday that the incidents would make peace talks between the two nations more difficult.
India: 'No threat' from Pakistan
India's military chief said on Thursday that he did not believe the world's newest nuclear states were on the brink of war, but he also said that peace talks that began over the Kashmir crisis could not go on until tensions eased.
"I don't think the situation is spiraling out of control," Defense Minister George Fernandes told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947. They recently averted a fourth, after India launched an offensive against separatist rebels backed by Pakistani troops in the disputed Kashmir territory. Each country tested nuclear weapons in 1998.
"There is no threat (from Pakistan)," Fernandes said. "We are ready for any problem. What their intention is, is up to them to answer."
World urges restraint
Sharif's government, however, is under pressure to stand up to India after it came in for harsh criticism for accepting a settlement of the Kashmir conflict that angered many at home. The fear of another Indo-Pakistani war has raised the concern of nations worldwide.
Russia indicated Thursday that it is ready to act as a mediator between the two neighbors if asked, and the United States on Wednesday urged both sides to stick to a 1991 agreement banning military flights within 10 kilometers (six miles) of the border without advance notice.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged both sides to resume talks soon.
"He certainly hopes that they will exercise restraint and not enter into a tit-for-tat situation that could lead into a spiral of violence," Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said Wednesday.
Correspondent Kasra Naji and Reuters contributed to this report.
India says Pakistan fired at helicopters carrying journalists
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