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Musharraf Warns India Pakistan Will Not be Coerced into Compromising on Kashmir - 2002-09-12


Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf sent a warning to India Thursday about Kashmir, where Muslim rebels are engaged in a violent struggle to get rid of Indian rule. General Musharraf addressed the U.N. General Assembly, where the topic of terrorism resonates strongly one year after the terror attacks on the United States.

President Musharraf says India is poised for war, having deployed about a million troops in battle formation against Pakistan. He says Pakistan will not be frightened or coerced into compromising its position on Kashmir. But if India wants to fight, he added, Pakistan will respond appropriately. "Let me declare from this rostrum that Pakistan will not start a conflict with India," he said. "But let me also declare that if war is thrust upon us, we will exercise our right to self-defense fully and very effectively."

President Musharraf indicated the fragile peace in South Asia at the moment could easily fall apart. "Today peace in South Asia is hostage to one accident, one act of terrorism, one strategic miscalculation by India," said President Musharraf.

Washington has been working to defuse tensions between the two nuclear-capable neighbors, who have fought several wars already in their decades-long hostility, most of them over Kashmir. Secretary of State Colin Powell has tried to assure India that Washington is using its influence with Pakistan to stop Muslim rebels from crossing into Indian-controlled Kashmir to carry out attacks.

President Musharraf insisted in his U.N. speech that any trouble in Kashmir is coming from the Kashmiri people themselves who want to get rid of Indian rule.

India's prime minister will address the General Assembly Friday.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani president has urged the assembly to adopt a declaration during its current session on cultural and religious tolerance. He said he fears the global war on terrorism rising out of last year's attacks on the United States is putting an unfair burden on Islam.

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