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Chain of Violence in Kashmir Unbroken

South Asia: Rumsfeld's shuttle diplomacy does not deter Indian and Pakistani shelling.

June 15, 2002|From Associated Press

NEW DELHI — Indian and Pakistani troops fired artillery into each other's territory Friday, and six civilians were reported killed, despite calls by the United States for an end to the shelling.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld shuttled between New Delhi and Islamabad this week, pushing for a halt to all artillery and mortar fire across the frontier in Kashmir, a region claimed by both India and Pakistan.

Before leaving Islamabad on Thursday, Rumsfeld said such a lull would "begin a process of easing some of the lingering hostilities" between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

However, his call received a cool response from India and none from Pakistan.

"We examine all options and take action at an appropriate time," Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said Friday, when asked about Rumsfeld's push for a halt to shelling. He said India had announced a moratorium on all hostile action in November, but that the situation had since changed.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee convened a meeting of his Cabinet Committee on Security to review his discussions with Rumsfeld.

Between visits to the subcontinent by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage last week and Rumsfeld this week--both aimed at easing tensions between India and Pakistan--New Delhi lifted a nearly six-month ban on Pakistani aircraft flying over Indian space and pulled back warships from positions close to Pakistani waters.

On Friday, a Pakistani navy spokesman said that Pakistan has decided to recall its warships and submarines from undisclosed locations.

"Pakistan has made this decision as a gesture of goodwill to India," Capt. Shahid Nabeel said by telephone.

A senior Indian army officer in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir said Friday that there had been somewhat fewer militant attacks since Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's assurance last week that he had ordered his army to stop Kashmiri militants from crossing the border to launch attacks in Indian territory.

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