July 2005 News

India Says Kashmir Incursions Won't Derail Peace Bid

19 July 2005

Srinagar: A 20-month-old peace process between India and Pakistan is not at risk from a sudden spurt of incursions by militants into Indian Kashmir from Pakistan, an Indian army general said on Tuesday. Lieutenant General S.S. Dhillon said the incursions and guerrilla violence would have to be on a much bigger level to derail the peace process that has led to better transport, sporting and commercial links between the nuclear rivals. 'This infiltration, I think is something which will not impact the peace process,' Dhillon, head of the 15 corps guarding the ceasefire line in Kashmir, told a news conference. 'It will have to be something far more violent or sensational than this routine infiltration. I think it will continue for some time and it should not affect the peace process.' The Indian government has consistently said Pakistan has to live up to its promise to stop the flow of Muslim militants into its part of Kashmir to join the nearly 16 year revolt there.But Pakistan accused Indian soldiers of crossing the ceasefire line in Kashmir to seize a villager, and on Tuesday lodged a diplomatic protest over the incident. 'We had summoned the deputy high commissioner (ambassador) of India and registered our protest,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Naeem Khan said. Khan said the Indian authorities had not yet returned the citizen who military officials said was whisked away by Indian soldiers from his house 200-250 metres (yards) inside Pakistan controlled Kashmir on Monday. India has not responded to the Pakistani allegation. The number of rebel infiltrations into Kashmir from the Pakistani side declined during the winter but has gained momentum since the onset of summer when the snow blocking mountain passes melts, Dhillon said. 'The sudden spurt of infiltration because of the opening of the passes is happening a little late this year, because of heavy snowfall during the winter,' he said. 'I would like to state and state with all the vehemence at my disposal, I am quite certain that they (the Pakistan army) are not unaware of this infiltration,' Dhillon said. He said the army had intelligence reports that a large number of militants were waiting across the ceasefire line to cross into the Indian side but did not give figures. Recently, Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh told the BBC 'terrorist camps' were still operating in Pakistan and New Delhi was ready to supply Islamabad photographs of them. 'By all parameters there has been a definite reduction in the level of violence ... but the terrorists still retain that potential to carry high profile attacks,' Dhillon said.


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