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Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
India expels top Pakistani envoy
India exchanged gunfire with Pakistani forces across the border on Friday
The border is very tense following Tuesday's attack
India has announced that it is expelling the Pakistani High Commissioner, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi.


Actions like these add to tension, whereas efforts should be in reduction of tension

Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman
The expulsion follows Indian accusations that Pakistan has been backing separatist militants who carried out a devastating attack on an army camp in Indian-administered Kashmir on Tuesday - an allegation denied by Pakistan.

Pakistan has agreed to recall the high commissioner, but has expressed "disappointment" at the decision.

"Actions like these add to tension, whereas efforts should be in reduction of tension," Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan told state-run Pakistan Television.

"Pakistan, despite this action of India which has disappointed us, we will continue to strive to resolve all issues with India through negotiations and through peaceful means."

Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh disclosed the decision after a meeting of the cabinet committee on security - India's highest body that considers national security affairs.

Ashraf Jehangir Qazi
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi is on his way home
"For the sake of parity of the relationship between the two countries, the Pakistan high commissioner is being asked to go back to Islamabad," he said.

India withdrew its own high commissioner from Islamabad after militants attacked the parliament building in Delhi last December, and both countries have since then cut the size of their respective missions.

Both sides have also deployed large military forces in combat positions along their common border.

For the past two days, there have been fierce exchanges of artillery fire along the line of control dividing the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir.

Military moves

Thirty-five people, including many women and children as well as soldiers and other civilians, were killed in Tuesday's attack.

Prime Minister AB Vajpayee
Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee has been under pressure to act from nationalists
The three militants themselves were shot dead by Indian soldiers after a fire-fight lasting several hours.

India has long accused Pakistan of supporting militants engaged in a violent insurrection against Delhi's rule in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan condemned the latest attack, but India maintains that a promise made in January by the Pakistan president, Pervez Musharraf, to clamp down on militant groups operating in Pakistan has not been honoured.

The Indian government has been under pressure from nationalist elements to take serious action against the militants and their supporters in Pakistan.

Given the massive deployment of troops on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, there is concern that small incidents could escalate into a major conflict.

Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, with missiles that can deliver warheads with cataclysmic effect.

The international community has urged both countries to try to defuse the tension and start to talk.

But the BBC's Adam Mynott in Delhi says Saturday's move by India makes that option an even more remote possibility.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Adam Mynott
"So far India's reaction has been diplomatic"
Pakistani High Commissioner, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi
"We have not excluded anything from the negotiating table"
See also:

18 May 02 | South Asia
Analysis: India's rising anger
17 May 02 | South Asia
Indian MPs condemn Pakistan
16 May 02 | South Asia
India weighs Kashmir response
16 May 02 | South Asia
Pakistan 'prepared nuclear strike'
15 May 02 | South Asia
US seeks South Asia talks
15 May 02 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Kashmir camp attack
15 May 02 | South Asia
Analysis: US keeps South Asian peace
14 May 02 | South Asia
US balancing act over Kashmir
23 May 01 | South Asia
Q & A: Kashmir dispute
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