June 1999 News

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Pak Army chief admits Troops are in Kargil

26 June 1999
Indian Express
By KAMAL SIDDIQI

ISLAMABAD, JUNE 26: Pakistan's Army chief said on Saturday that there would be no unilateral withdrawal from the Kargil sector and a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US President Bill Clinton was on the cards. General Pervez Musharaf told reporters in Karachi that Pakistan has denied involvement with the militants it calls "freedom fighters." When asked whether Pakistan would withdraw its forces from the embattled Kargil, General Musharaf said: "It is too early to say (but) it's a government decision. It is the prime minister's decision. We will not withdraw unilaterally."

According to Associated Press, the Pak admission comes after weeks of "denying its ability to withdraw" armed intruders from Kargil. The Pak Army earlier this month said its soldiers moved to occupy previously unoccupied posts opposite Indian-held Kashmir's Kargil and Drass areas. However, the army insisted the posts were located on the Pakistan side of the 1972 cease-fire line in Kashmir. Musharraf's statementsfollowed meetings with US Gen. Anthony Zinni, who delivered a message from Clinton demanding Pakistan withdraw the militants from Kashmir. Zinni also met Sharif on Friday but a Foreign Ministry statement indicated the meeting ended in a stalemate, with Pakistan pressing for a final settlement to the Kashmir dispute. Musharraf told reporters that efforts were being made for a meeting between Sharif and Clinton to be held "soon." However, the Army chief did not say when or where the meeting would be held.

"Obviously we do not want to escalate the situation and I am sure India doesn't want to escalate it," he said. "Therefore, we want to reach a solution that is mutually acceptable to us and to India."

Musharraf claimed that there were two issues: "There is the tactical military issue of Kargil and Drass and the political dimension of Kashmir and both have to be tackled together."

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