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Musharraf Doesn't Expect Pre-Emptive Military Strike by India - 2002-09-19

Pakistan's president says he sees no chance of a pre-emptive military strike by neighboring India because such a move would only lead to what he called a "dangerous war." The two South Asian nations, both equipped with nuclear weapons, remain locked in a standoff over the divided region of Kashmir.

Speaking at a regional security conference in Islamabad, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf again said that resolving the long-running Kashmir dispute is crucial to bringing peace and prosperity to South Asia. "And earlier we understand and accept this reality in Pakistan and in India, better it will be for the region," he said. "Because I don't think the geo-strategic environment, the situation between India and Pakistan, can ever allow improvement in relations between India and Pakistan without addressing on this core issue of Kashmir."

One speaker at the conference said India might follow the U.S. example if Washington launched pre-emptive strikes on Iraq. But the Pakistani leader says he sees no danger of such an attack. "In the case of unequal adversaries, the world reaction could only be diplomatic condemnation, but in the case of equal adversaries, application of this doctrine of preemption will lead to a war," said Pervez Musharraf. "It will be extremely dangerous. It will be more dangerous in case the adversaries being equal also have nuclear potential. So let there be no doubt that this doctrine of pre-emption does not apply in the Indo-Pakistan context at all, at least in the foreseeable future."

Indian leaders refuse to initiate peace talks, saying Pakistan must stop supporting an armed insurgency by some Muslim groups in Indian Kashmir. But President Musharraf says his country has taken significant steps to ease the current crisis with India. He ruled out further concessions and says India must cooperate if tensions are to ease.

He again dismissed Indian allegations that Pakistan is involved in cross-border infiltration of Muslim militants into Indian Kashmir. "I want to categorically state that the government of Pakistan is neither allowing, nor sponsoring nor encouraging any kind of movement across the Line of Control [dividing Kashmir] or the international border," he said. "If the Indians with their far larger force deployed across the Line of Control cannot seal the border they should not expect this from Pakistan."

The U.S. ambassador to India told reporters on Thursday that the United States believes the infiltration by Muslim militants into Indian Kashmir has increased in recent days. The diplomat says Washington expects President Musharraf to honor a commitment to stop the infiltration.