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World - Asia/Pacific

Pakistan pushes for talks to end Kashmir fighting

CNN's Satinder Bindra examines the history of the Kashmir conflict
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CNN's Satinder Bindra reports on the conflict in Kashmir (May 28)
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Ground Zero: The nuclear question
India-Pakistan relations

May 28, 1999
Web posted at: 7:55 p.m. EDT (2355 GMT)

KARACHI, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's prime minister urged his Indian counterpart Friday to hold talks to end the fighting in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke by telephone Friday, Sharif said.

But he warned that any Indian intrusion into Pakistani territory would "face the same fate" as the Indian MiG fighters that were lost Thursday.

Pakistan says it shot both of them down over Kashmir; India says both were in its airspace, and only one was shot down, while the other crashed because of mechanical problems. A Kashmiri militant group claimed Friday to have shot down an Indian helicopter gunship with a shoulder-fired missile.

Sharif spoke at a ceremony marking Pakistan's first year as a nuclear power -- an anniversary that came as Pakistan stood eyeball-to-eyeball with its longtime rival and fellow nuclear power over the divided Himalayan region.

Sharif said the nuclear-armed neighbors "should refrain from fighting."

"I talked to Vajpayee today and asked 'where is this leading?'" Sharif said. "I told him and he agreed that there is no solution to Kashmir except table talks."

He did not say whether the contact would lead to a meeting between the two sides.

Kashmir has been the catalyst for two Indo-Pakistani wars since the two nations became independent in 1947. Both countries claim the rugged territory, which is split into Indian- and Pakistani-held zones by a U.N. cease-fire line.

Indian helicopter shot down

Kashmir: High stakes on high ground

The mountainous, 83,807-square-kilometer (32,358-square- mile) province sits at the western end of the Himalayas, along the northern border of India and Pakistan.

A U.N.-drawn boundary divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, which fought wars over the territory in 1948 and 1965. China also has part of the territory, which it occupied in 1959.

India's portion comprises the state of Jammu and Kashmir, with the capital in Srinagar. Pakistan's territory is governed from Muzaffarabad.

India has fought a Muslim insurrection in its portion of the territory since 1990. Its attacks on rebel positions Wednesday marked an escalation of that campaign.

The current crisis began Wednesday, when India turned its troops and air power against Muslim rebels holed up in Kashmir's rugged mountains.

Indian commanders say they have had great success in the campaign to rid Kashmir of about 600 insurgents, which it claims are backed by Pakistan.

"The casualties among the intruders are mounting," Indian Maj. Gen. J.J. Singh said. "Some intelligence reports allude to over 200 killed and more wounded as far as the intruders are concerned."

Pakistan denies it has provided the insurgents any support.

On Friday in New Delhi, Vajpayee convened a Cabinet meeting - - the second in as many days -- to take stock of the situation. Protesters marched on the Pakistan Embassy to protest the attacks.

Pakistani military officials took journalists to view what they said was the wreckage of one of the jets Friday, about 12 kilometers (seven miles) inside Pakistani territory.

Correspondent Kasra Naji, New Delhi Bureau Chief Satinder Bindra and Reuters contributed to this report.

Pakistan pushes for talks to end Kashmir fighting
May 28, 1999
Pakistan seeks U.N. help in Kashmir dispute
May 27, 1999
Indian attack on Kashmir guerrillas raises alarm in Pakistan
May 26, 1999

The Government of Pakistan
Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C.
Indian Ministry of External Affairs
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