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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Vajpayee rules out Kashmir talks
Pakistani village in Chakothi sector
Indian shelling has damaged Pakistani villages
India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has ruled out talks with Pakistan on the Kashmir crisis, saying he is "disappointed" with its failure to rein in Muslim militants.

He was talking after meeting security officials in the disputed region of Kashmir, as international concern grows that an all-out war with Pakistan is imminent.

The sky is clear. But sometimes lightning strikes even in clear skies

Atal Behari Vajpayee
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's promises to stop Kashmiri separatists operating across the border had not been backed up with actions, said Mr Vajpayee.

"There is no question of including Pakistan in talks about Kashmir.

Click here for strategic balance between India and Pakistan

"Promises were made but they were not implemented. Words must be matched by deeds. That has not happened," he said.

When asked by reporters during a news conference about "war clouds", he responded: "The sky is clear. But sometimes lightning strikes even in clear skies. We hope lightning will not strike."

Asked whether the two countries were close to nuclear war, he declined to comment, but said the situation on the border was "serious".

AB Vajpayee speaking in Srinagar
Vajpayee: "Disappointed" with Pakistan
Mr Vajpayee made a belligerent speech to front line troops on Wednesday, telling them to "be prepared for sacrifices".

"But our aim should be victory, because it's now time for a decisive fight," he told Indian soldiers.

Home Minister LK Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes also attended Thursday's meeting in Srinagar, in what a government source said was an unprecedented concentration of senior figures in the region.

Mr Vajpayee announced a $1.24bn development package for Indian-administered Kashmir to improve its road and rail network and power supply.

India accuses Pakistan of training and financing the militants who are fighting for independence or the merger of Indian-controlled territory with Pakistan.

Pakistani concern

Pakistan has announced that it is considering recalling an estimated 4,000 troops currently on peacekeeping duties in Sierra Leone in view of the worsening situation.

Nuclear strength
India warheads: 100-150 - missile range up to 3,000km
Pakistan warheads: 25-50 - missile range up to 2,300km

Military sources also say that some troops may be redeployed from western Pakistan, where they are supporting the US campaign in Afghanistan, and moved nearer the border with India.

Pakistan has said it wants negotiations but will fight back with "full force" if it comes under attack.

India is believed to have deployed about 750,000 troops, facing some 250,000 Pakistani troops along the international border, including the Line of Control in Kashmir.

It has also sent five warships to the Arabian Sea, closer to Pakistan.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said India should desist from "blatant war-mongering" and instead focus on peacefully resolving the Kashmir problem.

"Pakistan has the ability to defend itself against any war imposed by India. Any misadventure by India will be met with full force," it said.


Four people were killed in Pakistan by cross-border firing on Thursday, according to Pakistani officials, taking the total in the past week to 20.

Kashmir conflict:
  • 1947 - India and Pakistan fight first war over disputed region
  • 1965 - India blames Pakistan for insurgency, war breaks out again
  • 1989 - Insurgency starts in Indian-administered Kashmir
  • 1999 - Heavy clashes around Kargil in Indian-administered Kashmir

  • Indian troops opened fire with artillery and mortars in the Bhimber district, a regional administrator said.

    Reports say that villagers are leaving the border area "in large numbers".

    On the Indian side, 18,000 villagers have left border regions in Kathua district, after 90 houses were gutted by Pakistani shelling, officials said.

    The latest crisis was sparked by a suicide attack on an Indian army camp at Kaluchak 10 days ago, which left over 30 people dead.

    Pakistan has called on the United Nations to help defuse the "explosive situation", and put pressure on India to negotiate.

    The European Union and the United States have both voiced fears that the two nuclear rivals are close to full-scale war and have sent envoys to the region to try to cool tensions.

    Click here to return

    The BBC's Jill McGivering
    "The threat of war is on everyone's mind"
    UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
    "We have to do all we can to assist the two parties to reduce tension"
    Pakistan's Information Minister, Nisar Memon
    "We expected a de-escalation"
    EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten
    "The situation has gone from bad to much worse"
    Click here fror background reports and analysis

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    See also:

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