The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Spat spawns Valley scare

New Delhi, Sept. 27: Terrorist organisations are expected to step up violence in Kashmir after the bitter verbal duel between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharraf at the United Nations.

Hopes that the spiralling violence in the state would subside after the two leaders had their say in New York is being replaced by fears that the verbal spat would lead to renewed strikes.

“Yes, we expect the violence to go up but we are prepared to deal with it,” said a senior official.

“Stepped up strikes also mean the terrorists are sighted and we can go after them. In the 10 days following Gazi Baba’s death, security agencies killed 90 militants mainly because the terrorists exposed themselves,” said the official who monitors developments in Kashmir.

It is much more difficult to go after militants when they don’t show their hand, the official asserted. They melt into the crowd mingling with citizens and quietly preparing for the right opportunity to strike, he explained. Officials say, because of fears of civilian casualties, it is often impossible to catch militants when they are not engaging the forces.

Now, with Vajpayee categorically ruling out talks with Islamabad unless terrorist activities end, there will be no need for Pakistan to restrain militant outfits.

After the Prime Minister’s April peace initiative, militants in Kashmir had been advised by Pakistan to lie low and not disrupt the process of normalisation.

However, movement towards peace was at a snail’s pace because of India’s cautious approach. There was not much progress apart from the restoration of the high commissioners in Islamabad and Delhi and the resumption of the Delhi-Lahore bus service.

A violent Kashmir would bring international focus back to the state. Islamabad wants the US sufficiently alarmed at the rising tension between the two neighbours to act as peacemaker. This fear has always spurred hectic efforts by the US to lower temperatures.

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