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|June 15, 1998||
South Asia is dangerously close to war, Bhutto tells P-5
In letters to US President Bill Clinton and members of the United Nations Security Council, former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto warned today that South Asia was ''dangerously close to war''.
With India and Pakistan -- now proven nuclear powers -- regularly lobbing mortars and firing artillery at each other, Bhutto said the key to peace is a settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
Economic sanctions will only exacerbate an already volatile situation, she warned.
Instead, Pakistan's twice-elected prime minister urged quick intervention by the UN Security Council, and the United States in particular, to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
In her letter to the Security Council, Bhutto urged the industrialised nations to ''put aside (your) punitive measures -- sanctions will not put the nuclear genie back in the bottle -- and assume a pro-active, constructive and positive role in the worsening South Asian crisis.''
To Clinton, Bhutto asked that he ''chair a peace process on Kashmir".
This process, according to Bhutto, should include China, Russia and Britain. She suggested it be fashioned along the same lines as the Irish peace talks and subsequent accord.
Bhutto also had advice for both India and Pakistan.
For India, Bhutto urged a drastic cut in its troop strength in Kashmir, estimated to be at about 600,000 combined army and security forces. She also called for India to open its half of Kashmir to international human rights monitors.
For Pakistan, Bhutto urged the government to give ''observer status'' at Kashmiri negotiations to an umbrella group claiming to represent nearly a dozen Kashmiri groups. Also, Bhutto urged Pakistan to open its borders with India.
"Nuclear parity demands a maturity that we no longer have the luxury to ignore,'' Bhutto wrote to Clinton. ''For this, we need your active and concerted leadership beyond the nuclear issue.''
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