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July 17, 1999
Pak sees 'smooth progress'
Pakistan today reported smooth progress in the retreat of 'guerillas' from across the Line of Control as a two-month confrontation in the Kargil region drew to a close.
But the pullout of what Islamabad calls Mujahideen (holy warrior) freedom fighters was overshadowed by the Pakistan army Chief Pervez Musharraf's reported remarks that his troops engaged in 'aggressive patrolling' across the Line of Control.
''Basically the disengagement between the Mujahideen and Indian troops, as far as we can monitor, is going on smoothly,'' Pakistan military spokesman Brigadier Rashid Qureshi said.
''We have our troops on the Line of Control who do not see evidence of any artillery fire or any other fire,'' he said. ''In all the sectors, according to my knowledge and information, things were moving according to a set time-table.''
But he said that in areas not covered by the disengagement agreement, Indian troops continued mortar and artillery fire and Pakistan had retaliated.
Qureshi said the reported remarks by the chief of army staff in an interview with the BBC yesterday that his troops had indeed crossed into the Indian side of Kashmir to fight -- after weeks of Pakistani denials that its troops had been involved -- had been taken out of context and 'blown up out of all proportion'.
He said General Musharraf's words did not amount to an admission of Indian and Western charges that Pakistani troops had taken part in the capture of strategic heights in the Batalik, Drass and Kargil areas of Kashmir.
General Musharraf told the BBC that there had been 'aggressive patrolling' by Pakistani troops across the Line of Control.
Qureshi said both Indian and Pakistani troops had engaged in 'aggressive patrolling' across the LoC and cited Indian incursions on May 31, June 6 and June 17.
''That does not mean they (Pakistani troops) were in the Mushkoh valley, Batalik or Drass,'' Qureshi said. ''It's aggressive patrolling. It's normal and it was carried out by both sides.''
General Musharraf said in the BBC interview that the peaks were captured by the Mujahideen in what he called 'an extremely successful operation'.
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