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Friday, 28 December, 2001, 10:49 GMT
UK urges Pakistan action on terror
Troops at the border in Kashmir
Tensions have been rising in Kashmir
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has called on Pakistan to do more to stop terrorists operating from within its borders.

Mr Straw told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that terrorists must not be excused as "Kashmiri freedom fighters" as tensions continue to rise between India and Pakistan.

There has to be a more intensive dialogue amongst the Pakistani community in Pakistan and elsewhere about the fact that you can not go on turning a blind eye to terrorist activity by simply labelling these terrorists Kashmiri freedom fighters

Jack Straw
UK foreign secretary
He said the US and the UK were urging the Pakistan authorities "to take more effective action against Kashmiri terrorist groups which have been operating, until recently, with impunity in Pakistan".

He said he was "deeply concerned" about the build up of troops and weapons on the two nuclear powers' mutual border.

Tensions have been running high since the attack on the Indian parliament - blamed by the Indians on Pakistani-based Kashmiri separatists - on 13 December in which 14 people died.

Mr Straw described that attack as an outrage "not only against India, which is the world's largest democracy, but against the entire democratic world".


He welcomed the "swift condemnation" of the attacks by the Pakistani government of General Pervez Musharraf and the action taken to freeze funding of the Jaish e-Mohammed and Lashkar e-Tayyiba - the two groups which the Indians believe responsible for the attack.

"These violent groups have no place in modern society. They must be stopped. I urge President Musharraf to continue his action against them with resolve and determination," he said.

Mutual sanctions
Bans on national airlines flying over each others' airspace
Diplomatic missions slashed by half
Movements of diplomats confined to capital cities
Mr Straw said that there had been "great ambiguity" or "complacency at best" in Pakistan's attitude to terrorist groups.

He added: "There has to be a more intensive dialogue amongst the Pakistani community in Pakistan and elsewhere about the fact that you can not go on turning a blind eye to terrorist activity by simply labelling these terrorists Kashmiri freedom fighters.

"If we want a safer world and we want this kind of conflict resolved peacefully... then we have to have a single categorical approach towards terrorism."

Pakistan barred its neighbour's passenger jets from its airspace and ordered that half of its diplomatic corps be sent home, just hours after India had taken the same measures.

Troops have been massing on both sides of the border for days in what is the most serious escalation of tension between the two nations in years.

Mr Straw's comments come as the US mounts efforts to defuse tensions.

Correspondents say America's concern is both to prevent another India-Pakistan war, and to stop the situation detracting from its own war against terror.

Tough words

India was the first to impose the punitive measures, including a ban from 1 January on Pakistan's national airline from flying in Indian air space and a reduction by half of India's diplomatic staff in Islamabad and Pakistan's diplomats in Delhi.

Pakistani soldier
The US does not want Pakistan to move troops from the Afghan border
Pakistan retaliated almost immediately, with similar restrictions.

As India and Pakistan build up forces along their borders, the US is concerned that Pakistani troops currently guarding the Afghan border may be redeployed.

"They have not yet moved forces from the Afghan border, and that is very encouraging to us, because it would be a big disappointment to us," Mr Rumsfeld said.

But, he added, there were concerns that if the situation escalated it could affect American rights to fly in Pakistani airspace.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence, but Mr Singh also tried to play down fears of war.

Sporadic clashes have intensified along their common border amid a massive build-up of troops, missiles and fighter aircraft.

The BBC's Bob Sinkinson
"Tensions are running high on the border"
Nirupama Rao, Indian Foreign Ministry
"They are not addressing the issue seriously"
Pakistani foreign affairs spokesman, Aziz Ahmed Khan
"Pakistan has exercised restraint"
See also:

27 Dec 01 | South Asia
India and Pakistan crisis deepens
26 Dec 01 | South Asia
US adds pressure on Pakistan
24 Dec 01 | South Asia
Pakistan freezes militant funds
21 Dec 01 | Americas
More groups join US terror blacklist
15 Dec 01 | South Asia
Suspects held over parliament raid
13 Dec 01 | South Asia
Pakistan leads world condemnation
18 Dec 01 | South Asia
India facing tough choices
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