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Wednesday, 5 February, 2003, 12:49 GMT
Pakistan renews Kashmir talks call
Pakistani Kashmiris chant anti-India slogans in Muzaffarabad
Kashmir solidarity rallies were held across Pakistan

Pakistan's Prime Minister, Zafarullah Khan Jamali, has urged the Indian leadership to hold talks on Kashmir.

Pakistan wants to solve the issue of Kashmir through peaceful talks, but India is avoiding talks

Pakistan PM Zafarullah Jamali
He said Delhi should agree to resume a process of dialogue aimed at resolving the two countries' long-standing dispute over the divided territory.

Mr Jamali's invitation for talks came during a speech on Pakistan's annual Kashmir Solidarity Day.

He said the allegation that Islamabad supports any cross-border terrorism in Kashmir was completely baseless.

In the recent past, Delhi has rejected such offers of talks and has asked Islamabad to first stop cross-border infiltration by militants in Kashmir.

Tension between the two countries has escalated in the last few weeks and it is highly unlikely that India will give a positive response to Mr Jamali's offer of peace talks.

'Valiant struggle'

The Pakistani prime minister made his remarks during an address to the state assembly in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan border guards
Kashmir poses a serious threat to regional stability
He said Pakistan provided only diplomatic, political and moral support to what he described as the just struggle of the Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination.

He paid rich tributes to the Kashmiri militants and said, despite limited resources, they had been waging a valiant struggle for the right of Kashmiri Muslims.

Mr Jamali said Pakistan's was a principled stand on Kashmir and he asked the international community to distinguish between a just freedom struggle and terrorism.

However, he said the dispute over Kashmir could not be resolved through military means and said there was a need to find a peaceful resolution to the problem.

He asked the Indian leadership to accept his offer for talks in order to establish permanent peace in South Asia.

Rallies

In the meantime, political parties and religious groups across Pakistan have been holding rallies in support of the separatist movement in Kashmir.

In recent years, 5 February has come to be known as a day of solidarity with the Kashmiri people. The date has no specific significance, but is celebrated officially in Pakistan.

It is a public holiday and the government and opposition parties compete with each other to demonstrate their support for the Kashmiri Muslims.

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30 Jan 03 | South Asia
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