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June 30, 1999
India making Kargil 'hostage to domestic politics': Pak minister
Pakistan Information Minister Mushahid Hussain said today that any de-escalation in the confrontation with India in Kargil ''will obviously begin with military de-escalation.''
But the minister declined to comment on reports that the military officials of the two countries would meet to de-escalate the fighting in Kargil.
''I can comment on statements made by government functionaries only,'' he said at a press briefing in Islamabad, responding to the reported remarks of an unofficial emissary, Niaz Naik.
Naik was quoted as saying after a secret visit to New Delhi that the director generals of military operations of the two countries would discuss the withdrawal of Pakistani intruders from the Kargil area.
''How can we withdraw when we are not there,'' Hussain said, insisting that the armed men Indian forces were trying to evict from Kargil were ''Kashmiri freedom fighters.''
A Pakistani military spokesman present at the press briefing said the DGMOs contact each other routinely on a hotline every Tuesday.
Political observers said the Indians harmed the peace prospects by blowing up the cover on Naik's secret visit to New Delhi which had followed an Indian emissary's visit to Islamabad and was kept secret.
Mushahid Hussain said India had made the Kargil situation ''hostage to its domestic politics'' and was escalating tensions there. Pakistan, however, continues ''to seek dialogue on any and all issues,'' he said.
Brigadier Rashid Qureshi, the Pakistani military spokesman, said that India inducted 100,000 fresh troops and paramilitary forces into Kashmir in the past four weeks, raising their total strength to 730,000.
''It does not stand to reason,'' he said. ''This strength gives India a capability to do much more than what it says it is doing -- fighting 200 or 400 intruders.''
''India's ultimate aim seems to be to capture the positions that Pakistan Army occupies in the Kargil sector, dominating the main Indian supply route to Siachen and Leh,'' the officer said.
Brigadier Qureshi said three Indian aircraft violated Pakistan airspace in the sector in a 24-hour period up to today afternoon. In the ''usual'' artillery exchanges, the Pakistani army blew up an ammunition and ration depot, killing 10 Indian soldiers, he said.
South of Kargil, Indian firing across the 720 kilometres long Line of Control, led to the death of one Pakistani soldier and four civilians, he said.
Meanwhile, two officials of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan urged the political leaders of India and Pakistan to resist ''pressure from jingoistic circles'' and stop moving towards war.
HRCP President Afrasiab Khattak and his predecessor Asma Jahangir said in a joint appeal published today that another war between the two nations would not solve the Kashmir problem and would only worsen the poverty of their peoples.
They said India must realise that peace would not return to the region unless it recognised the importance of a permanent solution for Kashmir. Pakistan, on the other hand, should be more precise on its position on Kashmir.
''Are we (Pakistan) supporting the cause of the Kashmiri people for an independent identity or one affiliated to either Pakistan or India? In either case war will get us neither,'' the rights activists said.
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