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August 14, 1999
N-deterrent prevented war: Pak
Andrew Hill in Islamabad
Pakistan has said its nuclear capability stopped a two-month showdown over the occupation of Kargil heights in Kashmir from becoming a fourth Indo-Pakistani war.
''It was our nuclear deterrence which kept India at bay,'' Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz told the senate.
He was speaking at the end of an upper house debate on the Kargil crisis which opposition leader Benazir Bhutto termed the 'blunder of the decade' and which other anti-government parties say was an 'unprecedented military and political fiasco'.
Aziz mounted a robust defence of the government's handling of the Kargil crisis on the eve of independence day celebrations which are likely to be dominated by tributes to pakistani 'martyrs' killed in the worst showdown with India in 30 years.
The foreign minister repeated Islamabad's assertion that 'Kashmiri freedom fighters' occupied the peaks and denied Indian and Western assertions that members of Pakistan's Northern Light Infantry were closely involved.
''Since the inception of the Kargil crisis the government has stated in unequivocal terms that it was the freedom fighters who had occupied the Kargil heights and that the Pakistan army was not at all involved in this operation.''
''Unfortunately, many have fallen prey to the aggressive Indian propaganda that the armed forces of Pakistan had violated the Line of Control by occupying the Kargil heights,'' he said.
''If there is one clear consequence from the events over the past two months it is that despite Indian military might, the heroic struggle of the Kashmiri people cannot be overcome.''
He was speaking before India announced that it would free eight captured Pakistani troops as a 'goodwill gesture' ahead of the independence day festivities.
Pakistani opposition parties have criticised the 'July 4 Washington pullout pact' as a sellout of Kashmiri militants.
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