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March 5, 2001

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Pak sees Indian trickery in J&K truce

Our Correspondent in Karachi

A top Pakistani Army official has said that India's month-by-month extension of the ceasefire in Jammu & Kashmir, when seen in the light of the country's rising defence expenditure, gives the impression that New Delhi is merely buying time to reinforce its troops in "occupied" Kashmir.

Major General Rashid Qureshi, director general of Inter-Services Public Relations, said India's decision to increase its defence budget by 14 per cent would create fresh tension in the region.

"India is required to review this step because it is going to give birth to an arms race in the entire region," Major General Qureshi said.

He said India's growing defence budget poses a threat to Pakistan and other countries of the region, and the world should take note of it. "Pakistan wants to resolve all disputes, including Kashmir, through talks with India," he claimed.

Qureshi dismissed India's argument that the defence outlay had to be increased in view of the country's security concerns vis--vis China. "This argument is wrong as India gives top priority to its borders with Pakistan. India has been purchasing tanks and other such weapons to be used purely against Pakistan," he said.

Qureshi said Pakistan had expressed concern at India's growing defence spending last year as well, when the outlay was increased by 28 per cent, but desisted from increasing its own budget. Yet, India had again increased its budget by another 13 per cent, the increase itself being greater than Pakistan's total defence budget in real terms, he claimed.

He said Pakistan was studying the situation. "There is a study underway and we will take a final decision after its report [is submitted]."

But Qureshi said there was no likelihood of an increase in Pakistan's defence budget as General Pervez Musharraf, the country's military ruler, had declared that Pakistan would not get involved in an arms race. "Pakistan believes in maintaining a certain level of deterrence necessary for its safety and security," he said.

The Government's Ceasefire: The complete coverage

Budget 2001: The complete coverage

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