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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Rivals up Kashmir rhetoric
Indian soldier on guard near the Line of Control in Kashmir
Tensions between India and Pakistan are still high
Indian and Pakistani officials have ratcheted up their war of words as both countries mount diplomatic initiatives over the disputed region of Kashmir.


But for India, we are at war

LK Advani
India's Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, visiting Britain to secure support for Delhi's Kashmir policy, says his country is "at war" with Pakistan over cross-border attacks by separatist militants.

Pakistan's junior Foreign Minister Inam-ul-Haq, however, says Pakistan cannot trust the pronouncements of the Indian Government.

Meanwhile, police in Indian-administered Kashmir say troops have killed five separatist militants in the border area of Magam.

Two soldiers and a policeman are also said to have died.

And in the capital, Srinagar, three senior members of the militant separatist group, Al-Badr, have been arrested.

Complaints

Mr Advani made his comments in an interview with London's Channel Four television, while Mr Haq was speaking to the BBC in Kathmandu.

The Pakistani minister is attending a regional foreign ministers' conference with counterparts from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives.

Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha (l) with Pakistani counterpart Inam-ul Haq in Kathmandu
Mr Sinha (left) ruled out talks
India and Pakistan appear to be responding to international pressure to lower tensions over Kashmir, where clashes between Indian forces and militants have increased in recent weeks, by raising the rhetorical temperature.

Mr Advani discussed the India-Pakistan situation with his British counterpart, John Prescott, on Wednesday, and is meeting British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Thursday.

He has been making the point that despite Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf's repeated assurances to stop militant infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, infiltration has continued and tensions have risen.

He said while hostilities had not been declared with Pakistan, unlike in 1965 and 1971, "but for India, we are at war".

He said infiltration was only an aspect of "cross-border terrorism".

"There are other components - training of terrorists, financing them, providing arms to them, letting terrorist camps continue to function on Pakistani soil," he was quoted as saying.

High-level mistrust

Indian officials say Mr Advani asked for British help in stopping the flow of funds from expatriate Kashmiris to the militants active at home.


One country cannot be an accuser and then sit in judgement on the issue

Inam-ul-Haq
Analysts say this is important for Delhi's efforts to hold credible state elections in Indian-administered Kashmir in mid-September.

The polls are the focus of Indian efforts to demonstrate the legitimacy of its claim to the region.

Mr Haq said India was not "competent" to hold elections in the disputed territory.

Pakistan wants Kashmiris to be allowed to choose between India, Pakistan or independence.

"You cannot trust the pronouncements of the Indian government at the highest level," Mr Haq said.

Monitors

But he did make clear that Pakistan did not "encourage, permit or allow" anyone to cross the LoC, although the difficult terrain made it possible that a few were crossing it "unbeknown" to Pakistani forces.

LK Advani at a party meeting on Kashmir elections
Mr Advani seeks support for Delhi's Kashmir policy
And he repeated Pakistan's proposal that an international mechanism to monitor the situation on the LoC should be set up to see whether any militants were getting through.

Mr Haq said this could be done either by strengthening the small United Nations observer mission, already in both sectors of Kashmir, or by bringing in, what he called, another force.

"One country cannot be an accuser and then sit in judgement on the issue," Mr Haq said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani
"I've no doubt Pakistan is sponsoring cross-border terrorism"
Click here fror background reports and analysis

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See also:

22 Aug 02 | Politics
20 Aug 02 | South Asia
21 Aug 02 | South Asia
20 Aug 02 | South Asia
19 Aug 02 | South Asia
06 Aug 02 | South Asia
17 Jul 02 | South Asia
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