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Spurned Pak turns terror camp table

Islamabad, Aug. 18: Pakistan today alleged that “several terrorist camps (exist) across the Line of Control” and said these need to be dismantled to improve bilateral security.

“We believe there are several terrorist camps, 55 in all. They must be dismantled,” Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan said at a news briefing today.

Observers believe the surprise reference to “terrorist camps” stems from Islamabad’s frustration at Delhi’s lack of response to its calls for resuming stalled peace talks.

Asked for details, Khan said: “There is no secret… according to our information, these camps are involved in subversion… the camps also fan sectarianism. We know they are all working against Pakistan’s interests.”

The spokesman was asked why Islamabad had not discussed the camps, which Khan said were trying to destabilise Pakistan, at the 2001 Agra summit.

“We have done it before, and have definite information about these camps. We demand that the infrastructure of these camps be dismantled,” the spokesman said, without elaborating.

Khan, who made unusually strident remarks against India, said Delhi was a looming threat.

“There is a more serious threat from India and we are trying to neutralise that threat by engaging India in talks,” he said. The spokesman hoped the neighbours would be able to resolve all outstanding disputes, including Kashmir.

Khan said Pakistan had proposed holding “technical-level” talks with India next month to discuss the restoration of the Samjhauta Express.

He also referred to remarks made by President Pervez Musharraf to Indian delegates at a conference organised by the South Asia Free Media Association here last Tuesday.

Musharraf had told the delegates: “Reciprocity can be demonstrated by cessation of atrocities in India-occupied Kashmir, reduction in troops level, allowing political activity and the detained people to travel freely around the globe.”

The President had said these were elements of reciprocity that must be there “when we talk of the possibility of a ceasefire in an area (Kashmir) where military operations are going on”. “Any unilateral attempt (by Pakistan to hold fire) in that direction may not be practicable.”

Referring to Musharraf’s remarks, Khan said: “We must look for ways to reopen our talks rather than posturing. We should look into the future, rather than allowing the past to obstruct the movement forward.”

India had responded with scepticism to Musharraf’s remarks, saying there was nothing to prevent Pakistan-aided terrorists to stop their activities inside Jammu and Kashmir.

Khan regretted the rejection of Musharraf’s offer, saying it could have led to a breakthrough between the two countries. “It is disturbing that Indians are not interested in positive proposals,” the spokesman said.

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