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India 'Disappointed' at Pakistani Conditions for Normalized Relations - 2003-10-30

India has criticized Pakistan for attaching conditions to some of the proposals India has made to improve relations between the two countries. But India has welcomed Islamabad's acceptance of most of the measures.

Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Navtej Sarna said India is disappointed Islamabad has attached, what he called, impractical, extraneous or delaying conditions to several proposals India made last week to normalize relations between the two countries.

India had suggested a series of measures that included restoring sporting ties and expanding transport links. Islamabad agreed to most, but said a proposed bus service between the capitals of Pakistan and Indian portions of Kashmir must be monitored by the United Nations at checkpoints along the disputed border.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Sarna rejected the condition as unacceptable. "Our offer of a bus link between Srinagar and Muzzaffarabad was motivated by humanitarian considerations," said Mr. Sarna. "It is unfortunate that Pakistan has instead opted to politicize and disrupt this by attaching conditions that they knew would not be acceptable."

Mr. Sarna said the steps agreed to by both countries will be implemented, but he rejected Pakistan's suggestion that the confidence-building measures should be part of a dialogue between India and Pakistan to solve their dispute over Kashmir.

Mr. Sarna repeated India's position that bilateral negotiations cannot start until Islamabad ends its alleged support for Muslim militants waging an armed insurgency in Kashmir. "If Pakistan perceives, as it has claimed, that composite dialogue is in mutual interest," he said, "it must immediately put an end to sponsorship of cross-border terrorism."

Islamabad denies supporting Muslim militant groups, and says it has done all it can to meet Indian concerns about infiltration of guerrillas into Indian Kashmir from Pakistan.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but is claimed in its entirety by both. The dispute has triggered two of the three wars the countries have fought, and brought them close to a fourth last year.

Tensions have eased following peace moves started six months ago, but there is little headway on sorting out their differences over Kashmir. India says it wants to see more confidence-building measures and improve people-to-people contacts before entering a dialogue. Pakistan says the two countries should move simultaneously to end the Kashmir dispute.