NEW DELHI, April 6: President Pervez Musharraf has “threatened India with the atom bomb” in the event of war over Kashmir whose “blood runs in our hearts”, he was quoted on Saturday as telling Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine.
Indian news reports quoted the magazine as saying that Gen Musharraf condemned “India’s great power illusion” and told “India to count on the fact that if the pressure on Pakistan becomes too great, then nuclear weapons use (is possible) as a last means of defence”.
Musharraf’s remarks come barely a fortnight after Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee ruled out any “possibility or threat of nuclear war”. However, in a recent tense moment of verbal exchanges during the eyeball to eyeball confrontation under way between the troops of both countries, the head of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had in fact threatened to annihilate Pakistan if it tried to bomb India.
But Vajpayee, during a trip to Simla last month had told journalists that “India had already declared that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons and Pakistan has also expressed similar views.”
Indian reports on Saturday said Gen Musharraf’s aggressive comments are unlikely to go down well within the European Union, Britain and the Commonwealth. Early on Saturday, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon became the first prominent world leader to issue a bald rebuke to Musharraf for his proposed referendum.
Meanwhile, some news reports said between 3,000 to 4,000 militants are waiting to cross into Jammu and Kashmir to escalate violence during the coming Assembly polls in the state.
“Conservative estimates suggest that there are between 3,000 to 4,000 militants waiting on LoC to cross into Kashmir,” Agence France Press quoted Kashmir’s Inspector General of Police K. Rajindera Kumar as saying.
He also said some 400 Kashmiri youths had crossed into the Pakistani zone of Kashmir last year to acquire arms training. Mr Kumar, talking to reporters in Srinagar, said the militants were waiting for the snow to melt before infiltrating. “Their aim will be to increase violence in Kashmir in the run up to the upcoming Assembly polls,” said Mr Kumar.
An election is scheduled to take place in late September or early October as the six-year term of the present state government expires on Oct 9. “Although security forces have an upper hand in Kashmir,” Kumar said, “militants are opting for soft targets and killing political workers of the ruling National Conference.”
“This they are doing with a purpose of keeping people away from the electoral process.” The All Party Hurriyat Conference has ruled out participation in the polls.—JN
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