- ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - President
Pervez Musharraf has insisted that Pakistan will not give up its support
for the "freedom struggle" in Kashmir despite his crackdown on
militants fighting Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region.
"There should be no doubt in any mind about our commitment to the
Kashmir cause and the people of Kashmir," the official APP news agency
quoted him as saying on Tuesday in a speech to a committee formed to publicise
the Kashmir issue abroad.
"We will continue to support the just freedom struggle of Kashmiris
politically, diplomatically and morally," he said.
Musharraf banned five radical Islamic groups on Saturday in a crackdown
against militant violence. Among the outlawed groups were two Kashmiri
separatist organisations that India blamed for a suicide attack on its
parliament last month.
APP quoted Musharraf as saying the National Kashmir Committee would work
for a "peaceful promotion of the Kashmir cause in accordance with
the U.N. Security Council resolutions and the wishes of Kashmiri people".
The United Nations adopted resolutions in the late 1940s and early 1950s
calling for a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the Kashmiri people,
but they were never implemented.
Muslim-majority Kashmir is a highly emotive issue in Islamic Pakistan and
analysts say Musharraf risks a backlash at home if he is seen to be bowing
to Indian pressure on the issue.
India rules about 45 percent of the Himalayan region and Pakistan just
over a third. The two countries have fought two of their three wars since
independence from Britain in 1947 over Kashmir. China holds the remainder
of the territory.
The December 13 attack on the Indian parliament, in which 14 people including
the five assailants were killed, triggered a big military buildup by India
on its border with Pakistan, with India demanding that Pakistan end "cross-border
Pakistan, which condemned the New Delhi attack, responded by sending in
There have been almost daily clashes between the two sides across a ceasefire
line dividing Kashmir, raising fears of a fourth war between the nuclear-armed
Despite the detention of more than 1,000 militants, many from the two banned
Kashmiri separatist groups, border tensions remain high. But Pakistani
army officials said there had been no fresh clashes since Monday evening.
India accuses Pakistan of training and arming the militants but Pakistan
says it gives only political and moral support to Kashmiri "freedom
The new Kashmir committee is headed by a former president of Pakistan-controlled
Kashmir, Sardar Abdul Qayyum, and includes members from that territory
as well as all four provinces of Pakistan.
New Delhi regards the whole of Kashmir as an integral part of India. Islamabad
wants the predominantly Muslim Kashmiris to decide in a U.N.-mandated plebiscite
whether to join Pakistan or Hindu-majority India.
Some of the more than a dozen rebel groups fighting Indian rule seek to
reunite Kashmir as an independent state, an option rejected by both India
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