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July 12, 1999
Pullout to be over in a week: Mishra
Pakistan has announced a truce with India to allow the intruders to withdraw from the peaks in Kashmir and end the worst standoff between the two rival countries in 30 years.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz has said the 'Mujahideen guerillas' had begun pulling out from one sector in the Kargil area and would do so in another sector under a disengagement agreement reached between military officials from both the countries.
There was no immediate comment from the 15-group Mujahideen alliance, the United Jihad Council that had publicly refused to withdraw and vowed to fight on 'until the last drop of our blood'.
''We have been informed that disengagement from the Kaksar sector, which began yesterday (Saturday), has been proceeding satisfactorily,'' Aziz told a hurriedly-convened media conference on Sunday.
''The disengagement from the Mashkoh sector will commence tonight. Gradually the disengagement will be completed in the entire area.'' A military official said the process would take one to two weeks to complete.
Aziz and other Pakistani officials declined to say whether the Mujahdieen would withdraw to the Pakistani side of the Line of Control or move to other areas.
''They will disperse,'' a senior foreign ministry official said. ''Arrangement for their dispersal has been made.''
Aziz said the agreement to end two months of bitter hostilities was worked out at an unannounced second meeting of the two countries' directors general of military operations at Attari near the Wagah border.
He said the truce would allow the intruders to withdraw from hilltop hideaways which they said they seized in an offensive earlier this year.
''The DGMOs of the two countries met today (Sunday) and agreed on the modalities for de-escalation, including sector-wise cessation of ground and air operations to facilitate the Mujahideen's disengagement,'' Aziz said.
The DGMOs' meeting took place exactly one week after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief flew to Washington for talks with US President Bill Clinton and agreed to take 'concrete steps' to end the fighting.
The chief army spokesman, Brigadier Rashid Qureshi, said a winding down of hostilities had already begun.
''The de-escalation that started yesterday is progressing fine in the Kaksar sector to allow the Mujahideen to disengage,'' he said.
Clinton has promised to take a personal interest in nudging India to resume peace talks with Pakistan under the Lahore Declaration signed in February between Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief and his Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
However, India has rejected any third party intervention on the Kashmir issue.
India has said 'some evidence' shows Pakistani withdrawal from Indian territory in Kashmir and expects the pullout to be completed in a week.
''We have some evidence of withdrawal already taking place in the Kargil region,'' National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra told the media after a meeting in which Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee briefed Opposition leaders.
''Within seven days the status quo ante of the Line of Control will be restored if it goes according to plan,'' Mishra stated.
After the withdrawal India will go back to further talks in accordance with the Lahore Declaration, he added.
Army Chief V P Malik and Air Chief Marshall A Y Tipnis briefed the leaders on behalf of the defence forces on the present situation in the Kargil sector.
Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes and Mishra were present at the meeting.
Among the Oppositon leaders who attended the meeting were Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh (Congress), Harkishan Singh Surjeet (Communist Party of India-Marxist), Janeshwar Mishra (Samajwadi Party), Thambi Durai (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham), Laloo Prasad Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal), Madhu Dandavate (Janata Dal), J Chittaranjan (Communist Party of India) and Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party).
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