Britain wants end to infiltration into Indian-controlled Kashmi

Sunday, July 21, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw pressed Pakistan on Saturday to bring a permanent end to infiltration by Islamic militants based on its soil into Indian-controlled Kashmir.

But Straw did not meet Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Pakistani newspapers said Musharraf decided against such a meeting because his advisers consider Straw biased in favor of India.

The diplomat arrived in Islamabad from India as part of a diplomatic effort to ease tensions that nearly erupted into war between the two nuclear-armed rivals last month.

He met with Pakistan's minister of state for foreign affairs, Inamul Haq, before returning to New Delhi to catch a flight back to London. British diplomats would not say whether Straw had sought a meeting with Musharraf.

Straw's visit came at a time when tensions are again mounting in Kashmir, which both Pakistan and India claim in its entirety.

India maintains that cross-border incursions have not stopped, although officials say infiltration declined for a brief period after Musharraf's promise to Armitage.

On Friday, the Indian army said it killed five suspected Islamic militants who had infiltrated from the part of Kashmir which Pakistan controls. India has refused to start any dialogue with Pakistan until infiltration ceases.

On Saturday, the Islamabad newspaper Dawn said Pakistani officials believe Straw "is taking a very partisan position" on the India-Pakistan dispute by "pussy-footing on Kashmiris' right of self-determination."

India and Pakistan moved to the brink of war after a Dec. 13 attack on the Indian Parliament that the Indians blamed on Pakistan-based Islamic militants. Both countries sent hundreds of thousands of soldiers to the border in the largest military buildup on the subcontinent since 1971.

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