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The BBC's Jill McGivering in Delhi
"Some figures suggest the number of civilians killed has actually increased"
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Stephen Cohen, Brookings institution
"The problem is that there are groups in both countries that simply don't want peace"
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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 18:49 GMT
Kashmir ceasefire extended until May
Indian troops in Kashmir
The ceasefire restrains Indian troops in Kashmir
India has announced that it is extending its unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir for a further three months, until the end of May.

But Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has warned that India's patience with Muslim militants had its limits.

The announcement has no worth

Militant leader Syed Salahuddin

His words fell on deaf ears among the region's separatists, who universally dismissed the ceasefire as a propaganda stunt.

Pakistan described the announcement as "yet another attempt to mislead world opinion".

India's cabinet security committee on Wednesday unanimously approved the extension, the third since November.

"Law and order shall be maintained. Those who think that our security forces are less determined today to put an end to terrorism are only deluding themselves," the prime minister said on Thursday.

Violence continues

Critics of the ceasefire say extra-judicial killings and human rights abuses by Indian security forces are at an all-time high.

The truce - which had been due to expire on 26 February - only bars Indian forces from offensive operations against Muslim separatists.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
Vajpayee: "Our patience is not infinite"
The Kashmiri cities of Srinagar and Haigam have seen a week of the worst civil unrest in a decade following reports of the death in custody of a Kashmiri independence activist.

The leading separatist alliance in Indian-administered Kashmir, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), said the extension was of little use.

APHC Chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat told the BBC that ceasefires did not address the most pressing question of India's security presence in the troubled region.

He conceded the initiatives established a better atmosphere with Delhi.

But lasting peace would not be achieved unless all concerned parties became involved in a dialogue, he said.

One of the most powerful groups in Kashmir, the Hizbul Mujahideen, expressed contempt for the extension.

"The announcement has no worth," Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin told the AFP news agency.

But correspondents say civilians living close to the Line of Control border with Pakistan have welcomed the extension with great enthusiasm.

The government of Pakistan calls upon the government of India to realise the futility of its efforts to impose a military solution on Kashmir

Pakistan foreign ministry statement
They said it had brought them great relief from militant and artillery attacks for the first time in ten years.

Dialogue urged

Reports say US President George W Bush has written to Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf stressing the need for dialogue over the region.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.

Mr Vajpayee has blamed the violence on Pakistan's inability to curb separatist militants.

Islamabad, which denies backing the militants, angrily dismissed the ceasefire extension as a "sham".

"Instead of responding positively to the initiatives taken by Pakistan for the reduction of tension and the commencement of a peace process on Kashmir, India has repeated its old allegations against Pakistan," the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The government of Pakistan calls upon the government of India to realise the futility of its efforts to impose a military solution on Kashmir and join Pakistan in a sincere effort to resolve the dispute," it said.

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See also:

21 Feb 01 | South Asia
India fends off Kashmir critics
20 Feb 01 | South Asia
Pakistan denies Kashmir violation
19 Feb 01 | South Asia
Kashmir militants kill five police
16 Feb 01 | South Asia
Police fire on Kashmir protesters
18 Feb 01 | South Asia
India delays Kashmir decision
15 Feb 01 | South Asia
Kashmir protesters shot dead
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