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Indian forces to be deployed against Pakistan until October - minister
( 2002-06-27 15:06 ) (7 )

Indian forces will remain deployed at the borders with Pakistan until at least October, Defense Minister George Fernandes said in remarks published Thursday.

He said the decision was taken Wednesday at a meeting of India's top security officials chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

"The CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) has decided that the troops will stay on the borders till October. There will be no scaling down of the preparedness," Fernandes told The Indian Express newspaper.

He did not elaborate on what India would do after October.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have deployed one million troops to their common frontiers since December 13, when the Indian parliament was attacked by gunmen New Delhi says were part of Pakistan-based Islamist group active in the Kashmir separatist insurgency.

After intense international diplomacy, India earlier this month lifted a ban on Pakistani civilian aircraft flying over its territory, a key sanction imposed in December.

India said there had been a reduction in the flow of Islamic guerrillas from the Pakistani to the Indian side of Kashmir and that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had promised a US envoy that such infiltration would end permanently.

But Vajpayee seemed to go back on that assessment in an interview over the weekend with Newsweek magazine and The Washington Post, saying "there has been no change in Pakistan's policy so far as cross-border infiltration is concerned".

"Every day we are getting reports that infiltration continues unabated," he said.

The Indian government is hoping the election in Kashmir, due by October 14, will be incident-free, thereby ending Kashmiris' criticism that New Delhi has prevented them from choosing their own leaders.

But the main separatist alliance has urged a boycott of the polls, alleging that past votes have been rigged, and the leading rebel group Hizbul Mujahedin has pledged to "sabotage" the election.



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