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Pakistan Accuses India of Training Terrorists - 2003-08-18

Pakistan is accusing India of training fighters to carry out acts of terrorism in Pakistan.

India has long accused Pakistan of training and sending Muslim militants across the disputed border in Kashmir to fuel a separatist insurgency there.

But a Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman, Masood Khan, has turned the terror charges back on New Delhi, saying there are more than 55 alleged anti-Pakistan terrorist training camps on Indian territory. Mr. Khan told a weekly briefing in Islamabad that fighters trained in these facilities would directly target Pakistan and are fueling sectarian violence in the country.

"This apparatus and this infrastructure of terrorist training camps must be dismantled by India if it is serious in its pursuit of peace in South Asia," he said.

Mr. Khan also criticized India for not initiating a dialogue process with Pakistan to settle bilateral differences, including the long-running dispute over Kashmir. Both the South Asian countries claim the entire region and have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Indian and Pakistan forces regularly exchange fire across the military line of control dividing Kashmir. But tensions have eased since April, when India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee offered, what he called, a hand of friendship to Pakistan to improve relations and try to settle the Kashmir dispute. Since then, both countries have restored full diplomatic relations and a cross-border bus service.

Last week, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf offered a cease-fire along the border in Kashmir to further efforts to improve atmosphere. But Indian officials quickly turned down the offer, saying such proposals could not be effective until Pakistan stops what they called "cross-border terrorism."

Pakistani spokesman Khan criticized Indian leaders for rejecting President Musharraf's cease-fire offer in Kashmir.

"This is really very disturbing that they are not interested in any constructive proposal coming from Pakistan, which offers an opportunity to move forward," he said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan spokesman Khan says his country has proposed that technical-level talks between Indian and Pakistan railway authorities be held next month on resuming rail links.

India and Pakistan came close to another war over Kashmir last year, leading to suspension of diplomatic and transport links.