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Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 13:19 GMT
Vajpayee hits back at Pakistan
Srinagar
India and Pakistan's rhetoric over Kashmir has stepped up
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has attacked recent comments by the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, in which he accused India of human rights abuses in Kashmir.


There is no democracy in Pakistan

Atal Behari Vajpayee
Mr Vajpayee said "a military dictatorship" lacked the moral authority to raise such concerns about India, which was a democracy.

And in separate comments, Indian Home Minister LK Advani said General Musharraf's words only served to illustrate that Pakistan was carrying out "cross-border terrorism" in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Tension has been high between the two nuclear-capable countries since an attack on the Indian parliament in Delhi by militants on 13 December.

India blames two Pakistan-based militant groups for the attack.

Poll rallies

The comments by the senior Indian leaders were made in separate election campaign speeches in north India.

Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani were addressing election rallies in the states of Uttaranchal and Punjab, both of which go to the polls this month.

Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf accused India of human rights violations
"There is no democracy in Pakistan," Mr Vajpayee was reported as having said.

"It has no right to talk about human rights violations in this country."

In Punjab, Mr Advani said the general's words only echoed successive Pakistani rulers to "plan, aid, abet and execute the campaign of cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir".

Brinkmanship

On Tuesday the Pakistani president launched a strong attack on India, accusing it of playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship.

General Musharraf was addressing a joint session of the state assembly in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir on the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day.

General Musharraf also repeated a call for India to engage in negotiations over the future of Kashmir.

But he also said it would never give up its diplomatic and political support for Kashmiri self-determination.

India has repeatedly refused offers of peace talks, saying Pakistan must do more to stop arming and training insurgents in Kashmir.

See also:

22 Dec 01 | South Asia
Kashmir killings prompt security review
08 Feb 02 | South Asia
Three killed 'in Pakistani shelling'
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