July 1999 News

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United States encourages Pakistan to rein in militant groups

21 July 1999
Reuters

WASHINGTON- The United States on Wednesday called on Pakistan to encourage restraint by militant groups involved in the killing of civilians in Indian-held Kashmir.

Dozens of intruders defied an agreement to withdraw from the Indian side of a military control line in Kashmir on Wednesday as Islamabad called on its neighbor to end all its "violations" of the cease-fire since 1972.

Fifteen inhabitants of a village in the Doda district of India-held Kashmir were killed on Tuesday by gunmen as were four laborers in another part of the Indian state.

State Department spokesman James Rubin noted that "these are only the most recent of a number of attacks against civilians, both Hindu and Muslim" and said, "We are not in a position to make an independent determination of responsibilities for these killings."

"We do believe, however, that militant groups with leaders and infrastructure in Pakistan are among those connected with killings of civilians in India and Kashmir," such as the Harakat ul-Ansar, which Washington designated a terrorist group in 1997, he said.

"We call on the government of Pakistan and all others with influence on these groups to press them toward restraint," he said.

Despite these comments, he said the United States did not consider the cross-border incursions a violation of an agreement Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made with President Bill Clinton on July 4 to withdraw Pakistan-backed forces from the Indian side of Kashmir's Line of Control.

"No, I think on the contrary, what we've said is that we believe that the steps necessary have been taken to follow through on the commitments that Prime Minister Sharif made," Rubin said.

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