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India Warns Pakistan Over Kashmir

December 6, 1998

SRINAGAR, India (AP) _ Pakistan will never succeed in breaking Jammu-Kashmir state away from India, India’s prime minister vowed Sunday on his first visit as premier to this center of the Muslim insurgency.

Heightened security kept most residents indoors on the first day of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s two-day visit to Srinigar. And police said explosives hidden in a public toilet shattered windows of houses and hotels Sunday night less than two miles from the state governor’s guest house where Vajpayee was staying. Further details were not available.

Earlier, Vajpayee ruled out talks with the militants until they cooperate with the Indian government, and he delivered what he described as a message to Pakistan and the world.

``Kashmir is not merely a piece of land for us in India,″ Vajpayee said. ``Kashmir is one of the best symbols of India’s ancient civilization and modern nationhood.″

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the Himalayan territory in the past 51 years. India controls two-thirds of Kashmir and Pakistan the rest. Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in mainly Hindu India, which accuses Pakistan, an Islamic nation, of training and arming the militants. Pakistan says it offers only moral and diplomatic support.

Shops and businesses were closed Sunday in response to a general strike called by militant groups fighting for secession from India since 1989.

Vajpayee urged Kashmiri youths to give up their weapons and eschew violence.

``The youth should not look outside the country for a solution to their problems,″ he told nearly 500 people, including government ministers and officials, at a reception organized by the provincial government in Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir.

Vajpayee accused Pakistan of ``creating tension and provocations″ along the border with India despite the two countries’ recent resumption of bilateral talks on a range of issues. ``This must stop, for this is a futile exercise,″ he said in his speech.

The prime minister met separately with military commanders and state government officials and discussed steps to counter the rebel insurgency.

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