Pakistan slams Kashmir fence: India's fencing of the disputed border in divided Kashmir worries Pakistan

Gulf Daily News

14 December 2003


Pakistan yesterday informed New Delhi it was "seriously" concerned about India's fencing of the disputed border in divided Kashmir, officials said.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali asked India to stop fencing the military line that divides disputed Kashmir between South Asia's two nuclear-armed rivals.

"India should not take undue advantage of the cease-fire," the premier told a news conference on Friday.

"The serious concerns were conveyed in a demarche made to the Indian high commission today," foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan said.

The demarche came a day after Pakistsan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali told India not to change status of the LoC.

"There cannot be any change in its state ... especially when talks for rapprochement are going on," Musharraf said at the commissioning of an Agosta 90-B submarine in the Pakistan navy at Karachi yesterday.

Pakistan's move came after the Indian army said it was fencing a 460km-stretch of the Line of Control (LoC) to prevent the infiltration of Islamic militants from across the Pakistani side of the border.

The 760km LoC was drawn up in 1972 along ceasefire lines after the previous year's war between India and Pakistan.

The LoC has been treated as a de-facto border between the Indian and Pakistani-controlled zones of the Himalayan border region, which both sides have claimed in full since partition in 1947.

Meanwhile, five suspected militants were killed in India's portion of Kashmir during two separate gunbattles with security forces yesterday.

After receiving a tip-off, soldiers and police raided a suspected militant hide-out in the Nangali forest in the Poonch region, 240km northwest of Jammu, officers at the police control room said.

Up to nine suspected militants were present when the raid took place, and a gunbattle ensued, police said.

Three bodies of alleged militants have been found so far, according to the police.

The second gunfight took place in the neighbouring Hari Buddha area, about 210km northwest of Jammu, where two militants were killed, the police said. There were no casualties among the soldiers or police. It is nearly impossible to confirm independently the attackers' identities because of the remoteness of the area.

Police battling Islamic separatists in disputed Kashmir have found bullets coated with lethal chemicals at a rebel hideout, they said yesterday.

The seizure comes four months after the Indian army said it had information that Islamic militants in Kashmir knew how to build crude chemical weapons but had no proof. About a dozen separatist groups operate in Kashmir, which is at the core of decades of animosity between India and Pakistan.