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Pakistan Vows to Defend Against Any Attack - 2002-05-22


Pakistan has vowed to use "full force" to defend itself against any Indian attack amid growing tensions over the disputed region of Kashmir. The statement came in response to a speech by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in which he told his troops that time has come for a decisive fight.

The Pakistani statement said India should desist from such "blatant war-mongering" and instead focus on resolving bilateral disputes through peaceful means. It says Pakistan has the ability to meet any "misadventure by India with full force."

A joint meeting of the Pakistani cabinet and the National Security Council was held Wednesday to discuss tensions with India. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said the government has vowed not allow the part of Kashmir it controls to be used for any terrorist activity.

"We have taken stringent actions within our country in order to curb militancy and terrorism. Those in India who accused Pakistan of fostering terrorism do not realize that Pakistan has been ready and willing again and again to invite international monitoring and verification of our statements. We have suggested that international humanitarian organizations should be allowed to visit both sides and see for themselves that the struggle for freedom is indigenous," he said.

Mr. Sattar said the international community should put pressure on India to defuse the military tensions. "Pakistan is for peace. Pakistan is opposed to war and Pakistan wants to adopt each and every means of contributing to defusing tension in South Asia and preserving peace in this important region," he said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have further increased after last week's deadly attack on an Indian army camp in Kashmir. India blamed Pakistan-backed Islamic militants for the violence, which left at least 30 people dead. The countries have nearly one million troops facing each other along their border.

India has long accused Pakistan of sending Islamic militants across the border to attack India and support an armed insurgency in the disputed region of Kashmir. The South Asian nations have already fought two of their three wars over the region. Pakistan and India have developed nuclear weapons in recent years. The International community has expressed concern another conflict could lead to a nuclear war in the region.

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