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India's PM Calls to be Ready to Fight Terrorism - 2002-05-22


India's prime minister says the time has come for "decisive battle" against what he calls "Pakistan-supported terrorism." Cross-border shelling continued Wednesday and there are growing fears that full military conflict between India and Pakistan could start at any time.

Speaking to frontline troops, 25 kilometers from the line of control, that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee called on them to be ready for sacrifice, saying India will no longer tolerate "cross border terrorism" from Pakistan.

Mr. Vajpayee said his "troops should be ready to fight for victory, and that the time has come for a "decisive battle against terrorism."

India's prime minister says the international community understands India's position. However, he says it is up to India, and India alone, to fight its battle against terrorism. New Delhi accuses Islamabad of backing separatist militants in Indian-administered Kashmir. Pakistan officials deny the charge.

Mr. Vajpayee's remarks come one day after a leading moderate Kashmir separatist, Abdul Ghani Lone, was assassinated in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state. Mr. Lone's family has harshly criticized local government officials in Kashmir for not providing adequate security to the veteran separatist leader.

During his visit to the state, Mr. Vajpayee says he wants to meet with moderate separatists to try to convince them to participate in state elections in September. A grouping of 23 separatist parties, known as the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, has called for a boycott of the vote.

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