India Demands Pakistan Give
Up Kashmir - Border Firing Increases
By Andy Soloman

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 divided Kashmir.
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 attacks.
"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.
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 it controls.
"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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