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Tuesday, July 13, 1999 Published at 03:41 GMT 04:41 UK

World: South Asia

Sharif accused of betrayal

Jamaat-i-Islamic supporters want no withdrawal from Kashmir

The leader of Pakistan's Islamic movement has accused the Pakistani prime minister of betrayal by agreeing to withdraw from the fighting in Kashmir.

Kashmir Conflict
Qazi Hussain Ahmad, whose Jamaat-i-Islamic movement claims to have four million supporters, said he did not believe Nawaz Sharif had achieved anything for Pakistan or the Kashmiri people.

He said resistance would continue despite the deal by people who he said were under Indian occupation and were struggling for their liberty.

[ image: Nawaz Sharif spoke to the nation]
Nawaz Sharif spoke to the nation
He said the talks between US President Clinton and Nawaz Sharif, which paved the way for the deal, had not addressed the key issue, which he insisted was the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people.

On Monday, the Pakistani prime minister appealed in a nationally-televised speech for a permanent settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

He said he had diverted a wider war, even a potential nuclear war, by his handling of the crisis.

India has given Pakistan until Friday to ensure the withdrawal of all the forces from the Indian side of the Line of Control in Kashmir.

International attention

In his speech, Mr Sharif appealed to his Indian counterpart, Atal Behari Vajpayee, to begin talks on Kashmir.

Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad: Sharif is trying to turn a climbdown into a victory
"It is in the interests of both Pakistan and India to tackle the Kashmir issue with sincerity and good faith and resolve it through negotiations," Mr Sharif said.

He also defended his agreement with President Clinton to persuade the infiltrators to pull out, saying that the world now understood the seriousness of the issue.

The United States welcomed the agreement and urged India and Pakistan to resume dialogue.

US Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth: President Clinton has a personal interest
State Department spokesman James Foley said: "The United States welcomes these developments, which demonstrate the desire in both countries to end this crisis."

He added the United States had maintained a "very close and productive dialogue" with both countries, who "deserve an enormous amount of credit for having been able to work to defuse the situation."

Withdrawal schedule

The Indian Government says Pakistan has agreed to comply with the deadline of Friday for a withdrawal, but there has been no confirmation of this from Islamabad.

(Click here to see a map of the area)

India has suspended air attacks in the region to allow the fighters to pull back from their positions on mountain bunkers.

Owen Bennett-Jones: "In general terms this crisis is over - the withdrawal is under way"
"We have suspended the air strikes as of now, but we are ready for any change in the ground situation," said Air Marshal Vinod Patni of the Indian Air Force.

Pakistan began putting pressure on the fighters to leave after Mr Sharif agreed with President Clinton a week ago that "concrete measures" should be taken to restore the line of control that divides Kashmir.

[ image:  ]

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