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Pakistan calls Indian allegations  about Kashmir:-'rubbish'

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June 20, 2000 


ISLAMABAD, (AP) - Pakistan rejected Indian claims Monday that thousands of Muslim militants were massing on its border preparing to cross into Indian Kashmir.


"Indian allegations have no element of truth. They are just rubbish," said army spokesman Gen. Rashid Quereshi. "The Indians are trying to externalize their problems in Kashmir by blaming us."


On Sunday, India said at least 2,500 guerrillas have marshaled in Pakistani Kashmir preparing to cross into Indian Kashmir. India also accused Pakistan of supplying militants with sophisticated weapons.


Militants, however, said they buy their weapons from the black market, which flourishes in both Pakistan and India or use weapons taken from Indian troops.


Quereshi called Indian allegations of a build up a ploy by India to portray the 11-year-old uprising in Indian-ruled Kashmir as Pakistani-inspired, rather than an indigenous revolt.


India accuses Pakistan of fomenting violence on its territory, a charge Pakistan denies.


"For the last 11 years India has been blaming Pakistan in an attempt to hide the fact that it is a popular revolt against their rule in Kashmir," said Quereshi. "But the truth is that the Kashmir freedom movement is indigenous."


Kashmir, a former princely state, has been the flashpoint of two previous wars between Pakistan and India. Divided between the two uneasy neighbors, both countries lay claim to a united Kashmir in its entirety.


Repeated rounds of talks have failed to make any progress in solving the 53-year-old dispute.


Last summer, the two nations fought a bloody border war in Indian Kashmir's Kargil region triggering international fears that the conflict could escalate into an all out war between the world's two newest nuclear powers.


Quereshi said there won't be any fighting this summer unless India fires the first shot.


Cross border exchanges between the two armies, that face off along the disputed border, are routine.


Pakistan's military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf has sought renewed talks with India over Kashmir. But India has refused demanding Pakistan first put an end to cross border incursions by militants.


Pakistan maintains it has no control over the militants, who are headquartered in Pakistan. These groups say they expect a surge in violence in Indian-held Kashmir this summer.


"Kashmiri mujahedeen (holy warriors) are now better equipped and have antiaircraft guns and other modern and sophisticated weapons," said Hafiz Saeed, the head of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, one of the main militant groups fighting in Indian Kashmir.


"There will be more fighting this year because mujahedeen are struggling for freedom, while India wants to crush this movement," he said from his headquarters in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore.


Saeed said weapons used by his group are bought on the black market or taken from Indian soldiers.


Omar Mansoor, a spokesman of Harakat-e-Jehad-e-Islami, said more young men are volunteering to fight in Kashmir because of the "increased Indian atrocities."


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