Tags: Expulsion | Fuels | India-Pakistan | Tensions

Expulsion Fuels India-Pakistan Tensions

Sunday, 19 May 2002 12:00 AM

The news came as an attack by Islamic militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed four people.

In an interview with Star TV, Qazi said India has not substantiated charges that Islamic militants based in, and supported by, Pakistan were behind the recent spate of terrorism in India, including an attack last week on a military camp in Jammu which killed 31 people, including soldiers' wives and 11 children.

"I think that the Jammu incident, which Pakistan has condemned in no uncertain terms, cannot realistically be associated with Pakistan," Qazi said. "You haven't produced any evidence in support of your charge against Pakistan and that remains a fact," he told Star TV.

New Delhi asked Islamabad to withdraw Qazi on Saturday. India withdrew its own envoy to Pakistan earlier this year -- following the Dec. 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament that New Delhi also blamed on Islamic militants based in Pakistan.

"I understand the Indians felt that they had to do something and that this was the easiest step to take," Qazi said. "I wish they had not taken that point of view. But personally I will be sorry to leave India. I have had a wonderful time here."

Diplomatic sources told United Press International Sunday that Pakistan has alerted its forces to prepare for possible Indian incursions into Kashmir.

Troops on both sides of the line of control that divides the Kashmir valley between India and Pakistan have been trading artillery fire for the last three days, killing at least five people. The shelling has forced more than 15,000 families in the border villages to move to safer places.

"Under the cover of artillery fire, the Indians may launch a limited attack into Kashmir," said a senior Pakistani official, who spoke to UPI on condition of anonymity.

On Saturday, Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh told reporters expelling Qazi would "maintain parity" after India's high commissioner to Pakistan was withdrawn in December.

"For the sake of parity of representation between the two countries, the High Commissioner of Pakistan who is currently in India [will] be required to return to Islamabad," Singh told reporters.

Pakistani officials, who briefed Western diplomats in Islamabad, described the expulsion of their ambassador from New Delhi as a dangerous move.

Quoting intelligence reports, they said they believe the expulsion order is aimed at preparing the ground for a military offensive.

In another briefing to Western ambassadors in Islamabad earlier this week, senior officials from the Pakistani Ministry for Foreign Affairs said that India plans to capture some territory inside Pakistani Kashmir to create what New Delhi calls, "a defensible line of control."

The Indians believe that the present line of control, which runs through a rugged mountainous area, allows infiltrators from Pakistan to enter Kashmir. Pakistan denies the charge.

Western envoys in Islamabad were told that India could launch air strikes on selected Pakistani targets to weaken Pakistan's position in Kashmir. They may also send their special forces into the region to attack militant camps India claims Pakistan is supporting on its side of Kashmir, the diplomats were told.

"Pakistan knows how to defend itself and our troops are ready for any eventuality," said President Pervez Musharraf after a debate in the Indian parliament last week heard calls for a punitive attack on Pakistan to stop infiltration.

A Himalayan valley, Kashmir has been claimed by both India and Pakistan since their independence from Britain in 1947 and has already caused two wars.

Tensions increased after a Dec. 13 attack on the Indian parliament that killed 14 people, including the attackers. Nearly 1 million Indian and Pakistani troops have been deployed along the Kashmir border -- alongside nuclear-capable missiles.

India has already severed its air, road and rail links with Pakistan and does not allow Pakistani planes to fly in Indian airspace.

As tensions rose, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, told a briefing in Washington Friday that the United States was doing everything it could to avert a war between India and Pakistan.

"We do have excellent relationships with both India and Pakistan, and we want to make sure ... that we do everything we can to [have] easing of tensions," he said.

But such measures appear to have had little impact on the militants who have continued their campaign. Sunday they attacked a military camp in Indian Kashmir and killed four troops and wounded 15 others. One militant was reported killed in the attack.

Rebels attacked the camp at Chasana, about 100 miles north of Kashmir's winter capital Jammu, hurling grenades and firing at the guards.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The news came as an attack by Islamic militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed four people. In an interview with Star TV, Qazi said India has not substantiated charges that Islamic militants based in, and supported by, Pakistan were behind the recent spate of...
Sunday, 19 May 2002 12:00 AM
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