May 2003 News

PoK Militants Vow To Defy Pak Curbs

31 May 2003
The Asian Age

Muzaffarabad: Kashmiri militants on Saturday vowed to resist Pakistani efforts to close their offices in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and said that Pakistan was betraying their cause by stopping fighters entering Indian Kashmir. Leaders of several anti-India militant groups said that Pakistan had given them time until May 31 to close down offices in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. 'There is a consensus, so far, among the mujahideen groups that they would not leave the base camp,' a militant group member said before a meeting of anti-Indian groups in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The decision to close militants' offices follows a thawing in ties between the two countries in the wake of an announcement by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in April that he was prepared to resume talks with Pakistan. In recent weeks the neighbours have announced the resumption of full diplomatic ties and the easing of curbs on transport links. The United States has been urging both countries to resolve differences peacefully. Militants also said that Pakistani authorities were trying to stop them from crossing the Line of Control, into Kashmir for the first time in years. The move was a betrayal of their cause, they said. 'Since early April, mujahideen are not being allowed to cross the LoC.,' an official of the outlawed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba group said. Pakistan says it has taken measures to stop crossborder militant strikes by cutting funding and banning parties that support the rebels. Foreign minister Mian Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri said on Thursday that the sooner peace talks between the two neighbours began, the sooner Pakistan could address Indian concerns about the rebels. Mujahideen are Muslim holy warriors. Muslim separatist guerrillas have been battling Indian forces in Kashmir since 1989. They refer to PoK as their base camp. India has long been calling for a crackdown on the militants who it says are armed and trained by Pakistan. (Reuters)


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