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July 13, 1999
No withdrawal, militants snub Sharief
An alliance of guerilla groups fighting in the Kargil sector today said it had decided to ''change positions for the time being.'' The United Jehad Council alliance said in a statement after an emergency meeting that a ''withdrawal from Kargil as a consequence of any international agreement or appeal is out of the question.''
''Our fight is not the fight of two powers (India and Pakistan) but a fight between Islam and the infidel. Nawaz Sharief is misleading the nation and its Islamic ideology,'' the council said in a statement issued moments after Sharief's 25-minute address to the nation last night in which he said the capture of Kargil heights had put the issue of Kashmir under the world spotlight.
Pakistan's main opposition party, the Pakistan People's Party of former premier Benazir Bhutto, said the speech marked ''the biggest self-deception of the decade'' and called for Sharief's resignation.
But the PPP is dwarfed by Sharief's Pakistan Muslim League in Parliament and Bhutto is unable to return to Pakistan at present for fear of being arrested after a conviction for corruption.
''The prime minister's public explanation of the Kargil debacle does not mitigate the shame, humiliation and isolation of Pakistan in the international community,'' the PPP said.
''The prime minister has still not come out clean on why he undertook such a foolish exercise from which he had to retreat in an extremely embarrassing manner.''
Allegations of betraying Pakistan's Islamic foundations are also expected to be made by right-wing parties who are making political capital out of an abrupt U-turn in Pakistan's policy towards the Mujahideen.
Until ten days ago Pakistan maintained it had no influence over what it called Kashmiri freedom-fighters and said it gave them only political and military support.
Sharief's transatlantic dash for talks with President Bill Clinton has enraged such groups, who say that Pakistan's economy and political development are too vulnerable to US influence.
Diplomats in Islamabad, however, said the militants had little choice but to withdraw from Kashmir as agreed by military officials at the weekend in an operation that is due to be completed by Friday to end the worst military showdown with India in nearly 30 years.
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