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Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK


World: South Asia

India cautious over Musharraf speech

General Musharraf leaves the television centre where he gave his speech

By Delhi Correspondent Daniel Lak

There will no doubt be a certain sense of relief in Delhi that the Pakistani military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, is trying to sound like a pragmatic moderate in his latest speech.

Pakistan in crisis
But India is still not offering detailed or strong comment on the general's words, saying that actions are awaited before any real reaction can be offered.

Immediately after the general's nationally-broadcast address and his offer to withdraw unilaterally some Pakistani forces from the international border between the two countries, Delhi said it would wait to see what steps were actually taken on the ground.


Indian Security Analyst Maroof Raza speaks to the BBC on Delhi's reaction to General Musharraf's statement
India's National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra, said most tensions were in Kashmir, where the Line of Control between the two sides is not a recognised border.

Indian analysts also point to General Musharraf's robust re-assertion of Pakistan's long-standing pledge of moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiri Muslim separatists as a sign that nothing looks set to change in Kashmir.


[ image: An Indian soldier displays weapons seized from militants in Kashmir]
An Indian soldier displays weapons seized from militants in Kashmir
India said soon after General Musharraf took over last week that it would talk with any Pakistan regime, but only if Islamabad stopped supporting cross-border separatist militancy.

India's policy of watching what General Musharraf does, rather than reacting to what he says, may be a wise one.

There is a feeling here that only a right-of-centre nationalist or overt military regime can actually make political compromises on the Kashmir issue.

Equally, India feels that a military regime in Islamabad faced with continued social and economic disorder would also be tempted to raise cross-border tensions as a way of distracting an angry Pakistani populace.

That is why Delhi has little to say for the moment and is leaving its armed forces on alert whatever General Musharraf might say.



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