26 August 2002
India's Foreign Minister has rejected claims by Pakistan officials that they cannot completely halt the infiltration of militants into Indian-administered Kashmir.
Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said he rejects claims by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf that Islamabad cannot put a complete halt to the "cross-border infiltration" of separatist militants into Indian-administered Kashmir.
General Musharraf and other senior officials have said recently they are doing all they can to stop militants from crossing into Indian-administered Kashmir, but that a few may slip through the porous border. Mr. Sinha says no one can slip across the "line of control" into Indian territory without Pakistani army assistance.
His comments were the first by a senior Indian official since Saturday when U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage concluded a visit to both countries. India's foreign minister said he welcomed U.S. involvement to ease tensions in the region, but India will deal with security issues concerning Kashmir on its own.
"The fight against terrorism, cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, is India's fight and India is determined to fight that battle," said Minister Sinha. "If our friends want to make Pakistan desist from this they are most welcome to make their contribution."
Pakistan denies any involvement with the militant separatists in Indian-administered Kashmir, saying it offers only diplomatic and moral support.
Mr. Sinha also says he does not expect any diplomatic breakthroughs with Pakistan as a result of upcoming elections in India's state of Jammu and Kashmir. He says India's top priority is to ensure the elections are free, fair, and peaceful.
Pakistan has described the elections as a farce. Separatist militants have urged a boycott and say they will try to disrupt the polling with violence.
Separatist political leaders in the state say they will not participate unless international monitors are present, and the elections are linked to what they call the "permanent resolution of the Kashmir issue."