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Saturday, 19 October, 2002, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
Kashmir parties get more time
Governor GC Saxena (R) with Congress leader GN Azad (L)
Governor Saxena (right) lifted a deadline given to politicians
Political parties in Indian-administered Kashmir have been given more time to form a new government in the state.

The state's Governor, Girish Chandra Saxena, told journalists in Srinagar that parties would no longer be bound by 21 October deadline to form the government.

But Mr Saxena said he would expect to see an elected government assume office as soon as possible.

No party won a conclusive majority in recently held elections and federal rule was imposed in the state on Friday after parties failed to form a coalition government.

Meanwhile, parties have been holding meetings with independent members of the legislative assembly to try to make up the numbers.

Negotiations

The leader of the Congress party in Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Azad, told journalists in the state's summer capital, Srinagar, that he would once again approach the regional People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah
Abdullah's party suffered heavy defeat

The PDP and Congress together won more seats than former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah's National Conference, but are wrangling over who gets the post of chief minister.

The federally-appointed governor has for now taken control of the state until an agreement is reached on a new administration.

More than 50 activists of various political parties were killed in separatist violence during the elections, the bloodiest ever held in the state.

The Indian Government says that more than 40% of the voters participated in the polls in defiance of the militants, who had called for a boycott.

But the militants say that their boycott call provoked an overwhelming response.

Flashpoint

Kashmir, India's only Muslim majority state, has been a flashpoint of hostility between India and Pakistan for five decades.

Since 1947 the states have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory - the first in 1947-8, the second in 1965.

The state was placed under direct rule between 1990 and 1996 when Muslim insurgency was at its height.

Tensions have been extremely high once more since December last year when India blamed Pakistan-based militants for an attack on the parliament in Delhi - a charge Pakistan has denied.

The crisis saw about one million troops being drawn up on the border, but on Wednesday the two nuclear powers began to withdraw troops in a massive de-escalation in tension.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Kashmir
"The assembly has been put in suspended animation"
Click here fror background reports and analysis

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17 Oct 02 | South Asia
11 Oct 02 | South Asia
11 Oct 02 | South Asia
15 Oct 02 | South Asia
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