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India's PM: Pakistan Not Cracking Down on Terror in Kashmir - 2002-05-23


India's prime minister said he is disappointed with Pakistan for not cracking down harder on what he calls cross-border terrorism in Indian Kashmir, and he does not believe Islamabad's latest pledge to do so. The prime minister made the comments at the end of a three-day fact-finding tour of the region, where tensions are escalating in the wake of increased cross-border firing. The prime minister was meeting with his so-called security Cabinet on his return to New Delhi.

Speaking to reporters in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said he did not believe Pakistan's pledge that it would not allow the part of Kashmir it controls to be used for terrorist activity.

Mr. Vajpayee said Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, made the same pledge in January, following an attack on India's parliament by suspected Islamic militants.

"Promises were made, but they were not implemented. What is important is not making a declaration, but an implementation. Words must be matched by deeds. That has not happened," Mr. Vajpayee said.

India consistently blames Pakistan for militant activity in Indian-administered Kashmir, a charge Pakistan denies.

On Wednesday, Mr. Vajpayee told Indian army troops to be prepared for what he called a "decisive battle." Both countries are believed to have nearly a million troops on the border, and both countries are believed to possess battle-ready nuclear weapons.

Mr. Vajpayee's trip to Kashmir was overshadowed by the assassination on Tuesday of moderate separatist political leader Abdul Ghani Lone. Mr. Lone had said he was not averse to talking with the Indian government, and that separatists should be more innovative in their strategies.

Mr. Vajpayee said he is willing to hold talks on autonomy issues in an attempt to find a peaceful solution to the problem of Kashmir. However, India's prime minister said he will not talk with Pakistan, until Islamabad ends what he calls "cross-border infiltration and terrorism" in Kashmir.

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