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July 2, 1999
Pak plea for international mediation
A special Pakistani envoy today called on the international community to help his country and India cool tensions over Kashmir.
''Please help us to de-escalate...It is madness to comprehend a war between two nuclear-armed countries where there are 1.2 billion people living,'' Mian Khurshid Kasuri told reporters on a one-day visit to the Netherlands.
''We are prepared to use our influence...what we ask the international community is to get India to honour its obligations, to give us a timeframe within which Kashmir will be separated,'' he added.
In the run up to September's elections, India was building up war hysteria against Pakistan, said Kasuri, a member of parliament on a mission for the prime minister.
India was using the conflict -- in which groups are fighting for Kashmir's independence or a merger with Pakistan -- to detract attention from its own problems, he said.
Since the fighting in the mountains of Kashmir reignited six weeks ago, several hundred people have been reported killed.
''If there must be a military victory, if that is the requirement for winning the next elections, let them concentrate on Kargil,'' he said, referring to an area of Kashmir where strategic heights have been captured by guerillas. India should not, however, threaten Pakistan as a whole, he added.
Western powers have rejected Pakistan's contention that the guerrillas are freedom fighters of a decade-old rebellion against Indian rule in the Muslim-majority state.
On Tuesday the US accused its cold war ally's army of an ''intimate central role'' in the incursion.
''There are Pakistani regular forces involved...probably in the high hundreds. It's very substantial,'' a US official in Washington said.
In Islamabad earlier today, Pakistan warned India of ''serious consequences'' if it widened the Kashmir conflict and renewed a call for talks to solve the crisis.
India has said a comprehensive solution of the Kashmir problem, over which it has fought two of three wars with Pakistan since 1947, must be preceded by what it calls the guerillas' withdrawal.
Kasuri declined to comment on a newspaper report saying a major breakthrough to avert the threat of a third Indo-Pakistan war over kashmir was imminent. ''I'm optimistic (a solution will be found),'' he said, declining to give any timing.
Kasuri was due to meet Dutch ministers and other politicians today. Other envoys of Pakistan's prime minister are also visiting a string of countries in the next few days to air their country's views.
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