- India and Pakistan's conflict over Kashmir
could become a full-scale nuclear war threatening a billion people, it
was claimed last night.
- Chaudhry Sultan Mahmood, prime minister
of the Pakistan-held part of Kashmir, warned: "The situation is getting
very serious, volatile and dangerous. I think there is a very, very great
chance of all-out war."
- He added: "Unfortunately, both countries
now have the bomb, and when it escalates to the extent of violating air
space then you use more, stronger weapons. The time comes that you feel
you better do it first, you attack first."
- Pakistan claimed to have shot down two
Indian fighters over its portion of Kashmir on Thursday, increasing tension
in the region over which two wars have been fought in the last half-century.
Kashmir is now divided by a ceasefire line accepted after the last war.
- Yesterday Islamic guerrillas fighting
Indian forces in Kashmir claimed responsibility for shooting down an Indian
helicopter gunship. "The situation has escalated," said Mahmood.
"I think this demands urgency. I think that the international community
must intervene." Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he talked
to his Indian counterpart Atal Behari Vajpayee and told him that the Kashmir
issue cannot be resolved without talks.
- "I talked to Vajpayee today and
asked him where is this leading to," Sharif told a public meeting
in Karachi to mark the first anniversary of Pakistan's successful nuclear
tests. "I told him and he agreed that there is no solution to Kashmir
except talks."Pakistan urged India to halt its military crackdown
on the disputed Kashmir border region, warning that hostilities threatened
not only regional peace, but world peace. "The situation is very volatile,
the two nuclear powers should not be in a state of confrontation,"
said a foreign ministry spokesman. In total, Pakistan and India have fought
three wars since 1947.