Pakistan rejects India proposal for joint patrols

 

Pakistan today rejected an Indian proposal for joint patrols along the disputed Kashmir border to stem the infiltration of militants, saying it was nothing new and unlikely to work.

"The proposal is not new," a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Given the state of Pakistan-India relations, mechanisms for joint patrolling are unlikely to work.

Indian Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee said in Almaty, Kazakhstan, that India could consider joint patrols along the Kashmir frontier the was an end to cross-border infiltrations by Pakistani-based militants.

"If Pakistan decides it will not support infiltration, then both countries can work on a mechanism for joint patrolling," he said.

The Pakistani statement said the rival armies were already patrolling their respective sides of the Line of Control (LOC) that divides the Himalayan region into Pakistani- and Indian-controlled sectors.

Pakistan has also expressed its willingness to accept neutral monitoring of the LOC, the statement added.

India has ruled out third party monitoring of the border, as it has long tried to prevent an internationalisation of what it considers to be a bilateral dispute.

Mr Vajapyee added that deploying neutral monitors was also an impractical idea.

"The region is mountainous, terrain inaccessible and for a third country to come to verify (the situation) is neither practical nor necessary," he said.

For its part, Pakistan maintains there is no infiltration across the LOC and has called for independent observers, such as UN monitors, to be allowed to verify this.

"We refuse to accept the Indian claim of being the accusers as well as the judge. If they are the accusers, let there be somebody else to act as the judges," Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told CNN in an interview.

India and Pakistan have massed more than a million troops along their borders since bloody attack on the Indian parliament in December which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

Another attack by suspected Islamic militants on May 14th on an Indian army in Kashmir stoked fears of a fourth war between the nuclear-armed enemies.