- ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan reacted with caution on Tuesday to a statement
by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee that spurred hopes of averting
war between the archfoes, but said firing by Indian forces increased in
- Major-General Rashid Qureshi, top spokesman
for military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, told Reuters Pakistan's foreign
ministry was "evaluating" Vajpayee's comments -- in which he
said he did not expect war and that diplomatic efforts to resolve tension
between the South Asian rivals were yielding progress.
- At least seven Pakistani civilians, three
of them children, were killed and 14 wounded on Monday by Indian fire across
the Line of Control dividing the nuclear-capable rivals in the disputed
Himalayan region of Kashmir, police said.
- "There is a slight increase, not
only in frequency but also in intensity," Qureshi said of the Indian
- "They would initially fire small
arms like rifles and machine-guns, but we have detected an increasing intensity
and frequency of firing and the Indians are now using mortars, 81 mm mortars
and 120 mm heavy mortars," he added.
- The two countries have mobilised around
a million troops along their borders after New Delhi blamed Pakistan-based
Muslim militants for a bloody December attack on its parliament.
- India says it will not de-escalate the
tense stand-off until Pakistan stops supporting what it calls "cross-border
terrorism", while Pakistan has made repeated calls for dialogue and
cracked down on the militant groups blamed for the parliament attack.
- GIVE US KASHMIR
- But Vajpayee, in his comments on Monday,
said while diplomatic efforts were making progress there was no chance
of peace talks unless Pakistan handed India the roughly one-third of Kashmir
- "If Kashmir is the central issue,
then one-third of Kashmir is occupied by Pakistan illegally," the
Press Trust of India quoted Vajpayee as saying. "Therefore, they should
return that to India and then start talks."
- India controls about 45 percent of Kashmir,
Pakistan a third and China the rest. Pakistan says Kashmiris should be
allowed to vote on their future, while the entire region is claimed by
New Delhi as an integral part of India.
- Police in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir
said the latest violence saw Indian troops using mortars, artillery and
small arms in firing that continued into early Tuesday. Pakistani troops
returned fire, they said.
- "The Indians are targeting the civilian
population," said a police official in Kashmir's Bagh district.
- Qureshi, who says Pakistani troops have
been ordered not to initiate fire across the border, said most Indian firing
was taking place in areas that have seen frequent exchanges over the years.
- "These areas they are shelling have
been shelled before," he said. "There was an eight- to 10-month
period when they stopped, but now it's back to what it was before."
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