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Militants vow to oppose Pakistan ban

Zulfiqar Ali in Muzaffarabad | May 31, 2003 18:25 IST

Kashmiri militants on Saturday vowed to resist Pakistani efforts to close their offices in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir and said Pakistan was betraying their cause by stopping fighters entering the valley.

Leaders of several pro-Pakistan militant groups said Pakistan had given them until May 31 to close down offices in PoK, a move seen as part of Pakistan's efforts to mend ties with India.

"There is a consensus, so far, among the mujahideen groups that they would not leave the base camp," a militant group member said before a meeting of anti-Indian groups in Muzaffarabad, capital of PoK.

India has for long been calling for a crackdown on the militants who it says are armed and trained by Pakistan. Pakistan denies the accusation saying it only gives moral, political and diplomatic support to what it calls Kashmiri freedom fighters.

The decision to close militants' offices follows a thawing in ties between the two countries in the wake of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's statement in April that he was prepared to resume talks with Pakistan.

In the following weeks, both nations have announced the resumption of full diplomatic ties and the easing of curbs on transport links, cut in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Parliament in December 13, 2001.

The United States has been urging both countries to resolve differences peacefully.

Militants also said Pakistani authorities were trying to stop them crossing the Line of Control for the first time in years. The move was a betrayal of their cause, they said.

Pakistan says it has taken measures to stop cross-border militant strikes by cutting funding and banning parties that support the guerrillas.

Complete Coverage: Indo-Pak Peace Talks

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