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India Criticizes Musharraf's Comments on Kashmir - 2002-02-05

India is reacting sharply to remarks Tuesday by Pakistan's president, who said India's actions in Jamu and Kashmir amount to "state terrorism." Indian officials say the comments call into question General Musharraf's stated objective of fighting terrorism.

Tensions are rising again between India and Pakistan.

Indian officials have issued a strong condemnation of remarks by Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, to the parliament of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

In a speech to mark "Kashmir Solidarity Day," General Musharraf accused India of using torture and mass detentions to hold onto its portion of Kashmir. Calling such policies "state terrorism," General Musharraf said Pakistan will, in his words, "continue to extend diplomatic political and moral support to the Kashmiri people in their just struggle."

Pakistan's President also has said his country will never compromise on Kashmir and wants international mediation to settle the dispute.

Indian officials reacted sharply. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao said General Musharraf's speech amounts to interference in India's internal affairs, saying India rejects them outright. Ms. Rao has said the remarks call into question General Musharraf's pledge of stopping terrorism in India's state of Jammu and Kashmir.

"This raises questions about Pakistan's commitment and security, about fighting terrorism wherever it occurs. And until and unless we see a change in approach and meaningful action by Pakistan the establishment of a positive climate in relations, the resumption of dialogue on outstanding issues between the two countries, becomes difficult," she said.

In his speech, General Musharraf said he was disappointed India had not responded more positively to his moves to crack down on separatist militant organizations fighting in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Indian officials say they will not hold talks with General Musharraf until they see signs on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir that cross-border infiltration is being curtailed. Indian officials also say Pakistan must hand over about 20 suspected terrorists and criminals.

Both countries moved hundreds of thousands of troops to their border areas after terrorists attacked the Indian parliament in December. India accused Pakistan of supporting the two groups it says carried out the suicide attack - a charge Pakistan denied. Diplomatic efforts to keep the two nuclear neighbors from an all-out war have so far succeeded - but neither country says it will pull troops back for the time being and tensions remain high.