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Sunday, 2 June, 2002, 20:51 GMT 21:51 UK
India stands firm on Kashmir dialogue
Pakistan anti-aircraft post
Tensions remain high at the Line of Control
India's defence minister has ruled out any dialogue with Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir until there is an end to what he called "cross-border terrorism".

It's difficult to specify in what circumstances you need a war. At the moment, I don't see any situation in which that may become necessary

Indian Defence Minister
George Fernandes
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has also ruled out talks with Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf at an Asian summit in Kazakhstan which the two leaders are attending.

"Not a day passes when... Pakistani troops do not fire into our territory," Mr Fernandes told the BBC.

"In the process of this firing the terrorists are smuggled into our territory, so unless this is stopped, there is no way one can talk," he said.

Enlarge image Enlarge map
Meanwhile, families of United Nations employees in Pakistan began to fly home on Sunday, after the tensions between the nuclear rivals caused the organisation to withdraw them.

Mr Fernandes is attending a regional conference in Singapore, at which he called on General Musharraf not to support militants operating in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

However, he said India would not pursue militants across the Line of Control which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan into Pakistani territory

Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes
Fernandes: No Indian first nuclear strike
He also ruled out India's first-use of nuclear weapons and slammed recent Pakistani missile tests, which he called an attempt to blackmail India and the global community.

"We have a nuclear doctrine that... India shall never be the first to use a nuclear weapon, India will never use it against any non-nuclear country and India looks at this weapon purely as a deterrent and nothing more than that," he said.

"I would like to ask why is world opinion is not strongly reacting to such open threats by Pakistan of use of nuclear weapons."

Kazakh summit

Hopes that Pakistan and India might come together at the Asian conference in Kazakhstan this week were dashed when the Indian prime minister said there were "no plans for talks" with General Musharraf.

Foreigners will not take any chances, but it is the duty of the government to assert that the situation is not as grim as it appears to these foreigners

Ravi Thapar, Delhi businessman
India's ambassador to Kazakhstan said the summit was "not a forum to discuss India-Pakistan issues".

Before flying to the Kazakh capital, Almaty, Mr Vajpayee said he would issue a declaration condemning terrorism and would brief the Chinese and Russian terrorism on "the cross-border terrorism that has created tension in our region".

However, General Musharraf says he thinks Russia's President Putin can persuade Mr Vajpayee, to join in a dialogue.

The Pakistani leader was speaking in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, on a brief stop-over on his way to the conference.

"I have assured the [Tajik] president that Pakistan is against war, we are for peace, we are for de-escalating, we are for reduction in tensions and I guarantee to the president that Pakistan will not be the one to initiate war," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, the authorities in Pakistani-administered Kashmir said they would stage a general strike during the visit of the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, expected later this week.

The Prime Minister of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan, said the strike would be in protest against the inclusion of Kashmiri separatist groups on the America's list of terrorist organisations.

Mr Sikandar Hayat was speaking at a conference of Kashmiri political and religious groups in Islamabad, which also adopted a resolution accusing the US and the West of showing bias towards India over the Kashmir issue.


As the stand-off continues, foreign nationals and non-essential diplomatic staff from many countries are leaving India and Pakistan.

Indian soldier at an army camp near the Pakistan border
Rising tension:

1 October 2001:
38 killed in attack on the Kashmir assembly in Srinagar
13 December 2001:
14 killed in attack on the Indian parliament building in Delhi
14 May 2002:
More than 30 killed in attack on an Indian army camp in Kashmir
21 May 2002:
Moderate Kashmiri politician Abdul Ghani Lone shot dead

The first families of United Nations staff began to leave Pakistan on Sunday, with a similar evacuation beginning in India in the coming days.

"We don't particularly feel that we're in any great danger but we've been ordered to go and orders are orders," said one Scandinavian woman leaving Pakistan.

"All of us want to stay together, especially if there is any danger, but there's nothing much we can do," she said.

The UK, the US and Saudi Arabia are among the many countries to have advised their citizens to leave the region, fearing a military confrontation.

On Sunday, Kuwait also advised its citizens not to travel to the region, while Malaysia urged families of diplomats and its non-essential embassy staff to leave India and Pakistan.

Border firing

About one million soldiers are massed on either side of the Line of Control which divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India.

Reports say a paramilitary officer was killed and three soldiers were wounded on Sunday in Indian shelling of the Sialkot district in Punjab province in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

A police official said two people were killed and nine wounded, including three women, when a mortar bomb hit a market in the Khoi Ratta sector.

One Indian woman was also reportedly killed and eight civilians injured when Pakistani troops launched a mortar attack on Sunday in the village of Garkhal, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of Jammu.

The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
"The risk of war shows no obvious signs of abaiting"
South Asia analyst Sunil Dasgupta
"Indians decided to do something about their Kashmir-Pakistan problem"
The BBC's Jonathan Charles in Almaty, Kazakhstan
"All the Asian countries would like a face-to-face meeting"
Click here fror background reports and analysis

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See also:

02 Jun 02 | South Asia
02 Jun 02 | UK Politics
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
02 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
29 May 02 | South Asia
28 May 02 | South Asia
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