- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 2, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, stopping short of matching India's pledge not to use nuclear weapons first, said yesterday that "any sane individual" would not allow a nuclear war.
Still, the growing fear of a wider conflict between India and Pakistan prompted the United Nations on Saturday to tell its staffers in the region to send their families home.
France, Israel and South Korea joined the list of nations advising their citizens to leave the region, as the South Asian neighbors continued shelling each other along their border, killing at least eight persons.
In an interview with CNN, Gen. Musharraf said nuclear conflict was unthinkable. He also restated his willingness to negotiate with India.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to mediate during the regional summit in Kazakhstan next week, which is to be attended by Gen. Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
India's defense minister said yesterday there was no sign of a reconciliation with Pakistan. India has demanded that Pakistan first stop cross-border incursions by Islamic militants, whom New Delhi blames for two major terrorist attacks during the past six months.
Gen. Musharraf told CNN that Pakistan has called for a no-war pact with India and the denuclearization of South Asia. He was asked about the possibility the situation would escalate into nuclear war.
"I don't think either side is that irresponsible to go to that limit," Gen. Musharraf said. "I would even go to the extent of saying one shouldn't even be discussing these things, because any sane individual cannot even think of going into this unconventional war, whatever the pressures."
Concern about Pakistan using nuclear weapons stems from the fact that Pakistan has a much smaller military than India does. India has a policy of not using nuclear weapons first in a conflict.
But concern mounted about a broader military conflict, as neither country offered a diplomatic solution to end their long dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, the catalyst for two of their three wars. Both countries claim the region.
Asked if military officials of the two countries might meet, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes said, "I don't think there is any such possibility." He made the comment while attending a regional security conference in Singapore.
The recent terror attacks ratcheted up tensions over Kashmir and have led to the deployment of more than 1 million troops along the border.
Cross-border shelling Saturday killed three civilians in India and two in Pakistan, according to official reports.
A grenade attack by those suspected to be Islamic militants also killed a 14-year-old boy and injured 16 persons, including two soldiers, in Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state, while a gunfight between Indian paramilitary forces and guerrillas in Nihalpora, 22 miles to the north, killed one militant and a teen-age boy caught in the cross fire, Indian officials said.
The United Nations said yesterday that its Pakistan and India staffs have been ordered to send their families home in the next few days. The order covers 260 dependents in India and several hundred more in Pakistan.
The United States and Britain are among the countries that have advised their citizens to leave India.
India accuses Pakistan of supporting Islamic militant groups that are waging a 12-year insurgency in Indian Kashmir.
Pakistan says it offers only moral and diplomatic support for the insurgents and does not back terrorist attacks.

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