Pakistan cuts frontline force


Pakistan said yesterday it was partially pulling back troops from a military control line in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir in a move to ease tensions with India.

A military statement urged New Delhi to respond to Islamabad's move by reducing the number of its troops in the region.

It said Pakistan had taken this "bold initiative" to follow up its earlier decision to exercise maximum restraint on the Line of Control separating the two sides in response to India's ceasefire against Kashmiri militants during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Pakistani action came hours after India extended the ceasefire for another month and said it would take steps to break the deadlock over peace talks with Pakistan, a move rejected by an alliance of Kashmir guerrilla groups fighting Indian forces.

"The move back has already commenced, and the troops have started moving towards cantonments," the Pakistani statement said, without giving the number of troops involved. "However, necessary safeguards have been taken against any possible Indian misadventure across the Line of Control to ensure protection of the local population," it said.

"This action manifests Pakistan's earnest and genuine desire to de-escalate the situation in order to facilitate the process of meaningful dialogue on the issue," the statement said.