December 2002 News

Militant flow from Pak into Kashmir waning: Army chief

6 December 2002
The Hindustan Times
Agence France-Presse

Chennai: The flow of Islamic militants from Pakistan into Kashmir has recently waned, Indian army chief General S. Padmanabhan announced here on Friday. ''The infiltration of extremists across the border has come down considerably and I would say that there is about 45 percent reduction in infiltration,'' the chief of India''s million-plus army said. ''Some infiltration will always take place, but the army is maintaining a vigil.'' India accuses Pakistan of sending armed militants into Kashmir.Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in June ordered a crackdown against religious extremists in his country, but India said it was not enough, demanding that Islamabad close militant camps in its zone of the divided state. Russian President Vladimir Putin, on a visit to India this week, added his voice to the calls for an end to guerrilla infiltration into Indian Kashmir, words hailed here by Padmanabhan. ''The statement comes from a leader of a great country. He (Putin) must have said it after much consideration,'' the general said. The military''s phased withdrawal of hundreds of thousands of combat troops from Pakistan''s volatile borders is in line with an announcement made two months ago by India, he added. ''The redeployment of troops has been completed in the eastern, southern and central sectors and the rest would be completed by New Year''s Day,'' he said, noting the process did not mean a total pullback of soldiers. India has said troops deployed along the Line of Control would hold their position. India and Pakistan deployed almost one million troops on their shared borders after an attack last December on the Indian parliament, which New Delhi blames on Pakistan-based militant groups.India, which had massed 700,000 troops on the borders, in May withdrew its warships from forward locations in the Arabian Sea and later lifted a ban on Pakistani planes flying over its territory, a move which has not been reciprocated by Islamabad.Some 200,000 Indian troops remain along the LoC, tasked with internal security duties in the Kashmir Valley, the hub of Islamic militancy in the state.


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