November 2001 News

Foreign militants are terrorists: Bhutto

29 November 2001
The Times of India

SRINAGAR: Non-Kashmiris fighting in Kashmir are not ''freedom fighters'' but terrorists, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said in an interview published on Thursday. ''Let me clear here that non-Kashmiris are not freedom fighters and indigenous Kashmiris are fighting for their freedom,'' Bhutto told the Greater Kashmir, a Kashmir daily. ''I also call non-Kashmiri militants as terrorists,'' she told the newspaper in an interview from New Delhi, where she is on a private visit. Bhutto had been asked about India''s stand that Pakistan supports ''cross-border terrorism'' in the form of Islamic militants crossing the disputed border to target Indian forces. Bhutto hinted her position may eventually be adopted by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, noting that she was ahead of Musharraf in breaking ranks with Afghanistan''s fundamentalist Taliban. ''What I say first is followed by Musharraf later,'' Bhutto said. Bhutto, who in 1988 became Pakistan''s first woman prime minister, said she opposed hardline Kashmiri groups such as Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba ''which are trying to hijack the Kashmir movement''. ''We believe the people of Kashmir should be given right of self-determination. They should choose their own future,'' she said. Bhutto called for India and Pakistan to resolve all issues, including Kashmir, through dialogue. ''We certainly want to avoid conflicts like Kargil. We do not want it (the hostilities) to turn into nuclear war,'' she said. ( AFP )


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