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DATE=3/28/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=KASHMIR, POST-CLINTON NUMBER=5-46018 BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=SRINIGAR INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Even before he embarked on his whirlwind tour of South Asia last week, President Clinton said he did not expect diplomatic breakthroughs on issues like nuclear proliferation or the Kashmir crisis. During his trip, Mr. Clinton made repeated calls for an easing of tensions between India and Pakistan -- especially over the territory of Kashmir, which is claimed by both countries. V-O-A Correspondent Jim Teeple reports -- now that Mr. Clinton has returned to Washington -- many on the Indian side of the Kashmir border say there is little evidence the region is any less dangerous following the visit. TEXT: // ACT OF MUSLIM PRAYERS..EST AND FADE UNDER TEXT // The call to prayer brings the faithful to the Jama Masjid Mosque, in the heart of old Srinigar -- the ancient capital of Kashmir. As they do every Friday, thousands gather in the courtyard of the 500-year-old mosque to pray. Surrounding the mosque are sandbagged outposts and police to keep a close watch on those entering and leaving the mosque. Many in the Muslim-majority state, Indian Kashmir, say they want to separate from India. Frequently, small groups of protestors clash with police following Friday prayers. This Friday, many in the mosque say they are especially disappointed with the situation in Kashmir. Many say they had hoped President Clinton's trip to India would have led to some breakthrough on the Kashmir dispute. Sitting at the edge of an ancient marble fountain in the courtyard of the mosque, Nizar Ahmed Khan -- a dealer in Kashmir shawls -- says he is disappointed Mr. Clinton will not get involved in the Kashmir dispute. // KHAN ACTUALITY // We feel very bad. We were expecting Mr. Clinton to definitely intervene in our matter this way. Because after 20 years he (a U-S President) was paying a visit to India. // END ACTUALITY // Before leaving on his tour of South Asia Mr. Clinton called the Kashmir region "the most dangerous place on earth," and said he wanted to ease tensions there. Many on both sides of the Kashmir border say they took that to mean that Mr. Clinton wanted to mediate the Kashmir dispute. The territory is claimed by and partitioned by both India and Pakistan. Two of the three wars the countries have fought since independence have been over Kashmir. In 1998, India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests. Last year, both countries nearly fought another war after guerrillas crossing from Pakistan occupied strategic mountain peaks on the Indian side of the "line of control" -- the ceasefire line which divides Kashmir. // OPT // During his visit to both India and Pakistan, Mr. Clinton said he would not intervene in the Kashmir dispute unless both countries invited him. Indian officials say they welcome Mr. Clinton's call for both sides to respect the "line of control." They also say they welcome Mr. Clinton's statement -- made in a media interview -- that he believes some elements within Pakistan's military back the insurgency in Kashmir. // OPT // India says the dispute is a bilateral issue with Pakistan and flatly rejects outside mediation over Kashmir. It blames Pakistan for supporting separatist militants who India says are waging a campaign of terrorism. Pakistan denies offering the militants anything other than moral and diplomatic support. // END OPT // Although many in Kashmir say they are disappointed Mr. Clinton's trip did not result in more movement towards a solution of the Kashmir crisis, expectations were not high. Sana Ulla Bhat is the editor and publisher of the "Daily Aftab" (sun) newspaper-- the largest Urdu-languange newspaper in Srinigar. Mr. Bhat identifies himself as a Kashmir nationalist who is a foe of both the Indian Government and the separatist militants. He says there is little Mr. Clinton could do for Kashmir. // BHAT ACTUALITY // Mr. Clinton has no authority in India. He is president of the United States. And, Mr. Clinton could not do much more than what he did. He said very clearly that India and Pakistan should solve this problem. That is enough. // END ACTUALITY // At the Jama Masjid Mosque, the faithful come to hear Umar Farooq -- the young Mirvaiz, or hereditary religious leader of most of Kashmir's Muslim population. Umar Farooq is also one of the leaders of the All Parties Huriyat Conference -- a grouping of mostly separatist parties who seek a political solution to the Kashmir crisis. Speaking after Friday prayers, Umar Farooq says the people of Kashmir do not have the necessary clout to get the international community interested in solving their problems. // FAROOQ ACTUALITY // That is how politics works. You cannot expect much because we are the weaker side. And, unfortunately, we do not have oil as the Kuwaiti's had. So we have to understand the fact that India is a big power and that we have challenged a big power and so we have to get we have to get on our own. // END ACTUALITY // Umar Farooq -- whose father was assassinated ten years ago, as the separatist conflict took hold in Kashmir - -- says he is dismayed that Mr. Clinton's visit did not produce any progress on Kashmir. He says international inaction will only mean more violence for the people of Kashmir. (Signed) neb/jlt /wd 28-Mar-2000 06:10 AM EDT (28-Mar-2000 1110 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .