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Singh Warns Terrorism Could Undermine Peace Between India, Pakistan


The Indian Prime Minister has warned that terrorism could undermine a peace process between India and Pakistan. He also called for peace in Indian Kashmir, which has been wracked by massive anti-India protests in recent days. As Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, the remarks came during an address to the nation on the occasion of India's 61st Independence Day.

Speaking from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on Friday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said that a suicide bombing at the Indian Embassy in Kabul has cast a shadow over efforts to normalize ties with Islamabad.

India and Afghanistan have blamed Pakistan's spy agency, for involvement in the July 7 bombing - Islamabad denies the charges.

The Indian prime minister urged Pakistan to clamp down on terrorism.

Mr. Singh says support for terrorism will negate the good intentions that "we have for our two people to live in peace and harmony", and make it difficult to pursue peace
initiatives.

India has long accused Pakistan of supporting groups that carry out terror attacks in the country and encouraging Muslim separatists in Indian Kashmir - but in the last four years a tentative peace process resulted in friendlier ties between the South Asian rivals.

The prime minister also called terrorism, fundamentalism and communalism the biggest challenges to Indian unity.

The government is worried over the situation in Indian Kashmir, which has been wracked by massive protests in recent days. The protests stem from a dispute over a plot of land in the Kashmir valley on which Hindus want to build shelters for pilgrims. The government first allotted the land, then cancelled it following objections by Muslims.

Since then, violence has engulfed both the Muslim dominated Kashmir Valley and the Hindu dominated Jammu region. The situation is worse in Kashmir, which has witnessed massive demonstrations.

So far the government's attempts to solve the impasse between the two communities have met with no success.

Mr. Singh appealed for calm in Kashmir and called on all political parties to help find a solution.

Mr. Singh says in this hour of crisis divisive politics will not lead the country anywhere. He asked all political parties to find a solution keeping in view the long-term interests of Jammu and Kashmir.

But those words were not heeded in Kashmir valley, where streets were deserted as separatist groups called for a boycott of Independence Day celebrations.

There was tight security both in Kashmir and the rest of the country for the celebrations. Tens of thousands of police fanned out in the capital, Delhi and other major cities to prevent attacks by terror groups and Maoist rebels.

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