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Wednesday, May 26, 1999 Published at 21:56 GMT 22:56 UK


Talking tries to ease Kashmir tension

Indian guns fire at suspected militants in Kashmir

Pakistani and Indian military officials held talks by telephone on Wednesday "to defuse the situation" in Kashmir, Radio Pakistan reported.

The talks were approved by the two countries' prime ministers who also held a telephone conversation.

Following Indian air strikes on suspected militants in Indian-administered Kashmir, a Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman warned: "Kashmir today is a nuclear flashpoint."


[ image: Protests in Pakistan at the Indian air strikes]
Protests in Pakistan at the Indian air strikes
"The entire international community is seriously concerned with the situation in Indian-held Kashmir and has repeatedly called for a just and final settlement of this core dispute, which is the basic root cause of tension and conflict in South Asia," the spokesman was quoted as saying.

Pakistan was urging the UN to send an envoy to the region to seek a political solution to a conflict provoked, he said, by the Indian authorities.

"The solution of the issue does not lie in escalation of brutal repression or in provocative military actions, but in recognising the wrong done to the Kashmiris and honouring the commitments made to them by India," the spokesman said.

Pakistan's 'blatant violation'

An Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman accused Pakistan of "systematically pushing" infiltrators into Kashmir and shelling Indian border posts on Wednesday, All India Radio reported.

Pakistan's actions were a "blatant violation" of the Lahore Declaration and represented a "qualitative upgrading" of hostilities, the spokesman was quoted as saying.


[ image: India accuses Pakistan of supporting militants in Indian-administered Kashmir]
India accuses Pakistan of supporting militants in Indian-administered Kashmir
The Indian news agency PTI reported that additional troops were being airlifted to Kargil on Wednesday to reinforce ground forces already operating there.

Indian Air Commodore Subhash Bhojwani confirmed that Srinagar airport was temporarily closed to civilian flights.

He told a news conference in Delhi that his aircraft had permission to respond to any Pakistani intervention in the conflict.

"Should there be any direct or indirect interference in our operations by the Pakistani army or the Pakistani air force, the Indian defence forces have been authorised to take appropriate actions," he said in remarks broadcast by Indian Doordarshan TV.

Air operations would continue until India regained control of its territory and Pakistan would be responsible for any escalation.

"This is the start of air operations and they will continue till a combined force reoccupies our own territory. Any escalation of this conflict will in fact entirely be the responsibility of Pakistan," he said.

India's deputy director-general of military operations, Brig Mohan Bhandari, told the same news conference that the Pakistani army and intelligence service (ISI) were supporting the Kashmir infiltrators.

"We know that the Pakistan army and the ISI are fully aiding and abetting what is going on inside India," he said.

'Indian invasion plan'

Pakistani army spokesman Brigadier Rashid Qureshi said on Wednesday that the fighting in Kashmir was the result of an Indian invasion plan, Radio Pakistan reported.

"The current situation in Kargil sector is the outcome of Indian designs to capture the areas inside Pakistani territory on the Line of Control," he was quoted as saying in Rawalpindi.

Brigadier Qureshi said the fighting had begun when Indian troops unsuccessfully attacked a Pakistani border post on 6 May.

Since then, the Indians had lost 100 soldiers and responded by building up 12,000 troops in Kargil and up to 70 military aircraft.

"The Pakistani army has taken all the necessary steps," he told the radio. "We continue to monitor what the Indians are doing. They continue to suffer."

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.



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