News

DATE=7/12/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-251656 TITLE=PAK/KASHMIR (L-ONLY) BYLINE=AYAZ GUL DATELINE=ISLAMABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: THE TWO-MONTH HOSTILITIES IN THE DISPUTED KASHMIR REGION APPEAR TO BE NEARING AN END AFTER PAKISTAN AND INDIA AGREED ON A PLAN FOR THE ISLAMIC MILITANTS TO WITHDRAW FROM POSITIONS IN INDIAN KASHMIR. THE DE-ESCALATION COMES ONE-WEEK AFTER TALKS IN WASHINGTON BETWEEN PRIME MINISTER NAWAZ SHARIF AND PRESIDENT CLINTON, DURING WHICH THEY AGREED CONCRETE STEPS NEED TO BE TAKEN TO DEFUSE THE CRISIS. AYAZ GUL REPORTS FROM ISLAMABAD. TEXT: PAKISTANI AND INDIAN OFFICIALS SAY ISLAMIC GUERRILLAS HAVE BEGUN TO WITHDRAW THEIR FORCES FROM STRATEGIC POSITIONS ON THE INDIAN SIDE OF KASHMIR. THE MOVE APPEARS TO HAVE DEFUSED THE WORST MILITARY SHOWDOWN BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN OVER KASHMIR IN 30-YEARS. THE PAKISTANI GOVERNMENT BEGAN PERSUADING THE MILITANTS TO LEAVE INDIAN TERRITORY AFTER PRIME MINISTER SHARIF REPORTEDLY AGREED IN TALKS IN WASHINGTON A WEEK AGO WITH PRESIDENT CLINTON TO DO SO. BUT PAKISTAN'S POLITICAL AS WELL AS RELIGIOUS PARTIES ARE CONDEMNING MR. SHARIF FOR AGREEING TO SEEK THE WITHDRAWAL OF ISLAMIC GUERRILLAS WHO HAVE BEEN FIGHTING INDIAN TROOPS IN THE REGION SINCE EARLY MAY. THEY HAVE ACCUSED MR. SHARIF OF TREASON AND ARE CALLING FOR HIS REMOVAL FROM OFFICE. THE ATTENTION IS NOW FOCUSING ON THE NATIONWIDE ADDRESS MR. SHARIF IS DUE TO DELIVER LATER TODAY (MONDAY, 1600GMT), WHEN HE IS EXPECTED TO DEFEND HIS KASHMIR POLICY. MR. SHARIF IS LIKELY TO ARGUE THAT HIS EFFORTS TO PERSUADE ISLAMIC MILITANTS TO PULL-BACK FROM INDIAN KASHMIR HAVE AVOIDED A FOURTH WAR WITH INDIA. THE PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER IS ALSO EXPECTED TO REITERATE PAKISTAN'S POSITION THAT IT NOW WANTS INDIA TO IMMEDIATELY ENGAGE IN BILATERAL TALKS TO RESOLVE THE 52-YEAR-OLD DISPUTE OVER KASHMIR. PAKISTANI OFFICIALS SAY THEY EXPECT PRESIDENT CLINTON TO FULFILL HIS COMMITMENT TO TAKE A PERSONAL INTEREST TO ENSURE THE DIALOGUE PROCESS IS REVIVED. (SIGNED) NEB/AG/PLM 12-Jul-99 7:10 AM EDT (1110 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .