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Monday, August 9, 1999 Published at 05:55 GMT 06:55 UK

World: South Asia

Vajpayee: Pakistan a 'terrorist' state

The prime minister shared the platform with his Punjab allies

India's Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has called on the United States to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.

Kashmir Conflict
He was speaking at a rally in the northern state of Punjab - bordering Pakistan - at the start of his campaign for September's general election.

Delhi accuses Islamabad of supporting insurgents in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Addressing large crowds, Mr Vajpayee accused Pakistan of renewed cross-border attacks in Kashmir, and said it was trying to open up new fronts with India.

The BBC's David Chazan: "There has been an upsurge in violence"
"Peace with Pakistan is not possible until Pakistan withdraws the terrorists.

"I assure the countrymen that the neighbours will not be allowed to succeed in their attempts," Mr Vajpayee told supporters in the industrial town of Ludhiana.

Pakistan has denied involvement in the 10-week military conflict in the Kargil sector of Kashmir.

Joint campaign

Saturday's rally marked the launch of a joint campaign by the BJP and Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal party.

The gathering was also addressed by the chief ministers of Punjab and of the neighbouring state of Haryana.

At a later gathering of newspaper editors, Mr Vajpayee said the India-Pakistan talks in Lahore earlier this year signalled India's desire for peace with Pakistan.

But he also said that the Kargil conflict left no doubt that India was fully prepared to tackle any hostilities sponsored across the border.

'BJP compromised security'

[ image: Sonia Gandhi:
Sonia Gandhi: "Government was dozing"
Sonia Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress Party, also referred to the Kashmir conflict when she launched her party's election campaign.

Addressing a rally at Jharsuguda in Orissa state, Mrs Gandhi accused the BJP of compromising Indian security.

"This government appeared to have been dozing when the enemy seized control of our territory," the opposition leader said.

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