- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 1, 2002

The State Department, citing the rising risk of war between India and Pakistan, yesterday urged 60,000 Americans in India to leave the country and authorized the departure of nonessential diplomatic staff and all dependents.
The U.S. move was followed by other Western nations, including Britain, Canada and Germany, which, like the United States, had already significantly reduced their embassy and consulate personnel in Pakistan because of militant attacks against Westerners.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, meanwhile, said there were indications that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was trying to stop militants who are crossing the border into the disputed region of Kashmir and attacking the Indian side.
Yesterday's warning came a week after the State Department had advised U.S. citizens to refrain from travel to India. It urged those who choose to remain in the country to avoid travel to all border areas with Pakistan, including the Indian states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab.
"Conditions along India's border with Pakistan and in the state of Jammu and Kashmir have deteriorated. Tensions have risen to serious levels, and the risk of intensified military hostilities between India and Pakistan cannot be ruled out," the State Department said of the two nuclear-armed rivals.
"As a result of these concerns, the department has authorized the departure of all U.S. government personnel in non-emergency positions and family members in India," it said.
Richard Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said there were about 600 U.S. diplomatic workers and dependents in India.
The travel warning said that "terrorist groups, some of which are linked to al Qaeda and have previously been implicated in attacks on Americans, are active" along the Line of Control in Kashmir and the Indian-Pakistani border, and that they "have attacked and killed civilians."
Mr. Powell said yesterday that the Pakistani government had given "instructions" to militant groups to cease incursions in Indian-controlled Kashmir, but it was too early to tell how effective those measures are.
"What we are expecting President Musharraf to do is to use all the authority he has to stop it and to keep it stopped so that we can get this crisis behind us," the secretary said in a British Broadcasting Corp. interview.
In London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, just back from visits to Islamabad and New Delhi, said the 33,000 Britons in India should consider leaving the country.
Germany also advised its nationals to depart if not on urgent business.
The two nuclear powers have put the international community on alert by amassing nearly 1 million troops along their border. Several foreign diplomats, including Mr. Straw and Chris Patten, the European Union's external affairs commissioner, have tried to ease tensions in recent days.
President Bush announced Thursday that he would dispatch Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to the region late next week. Mr. Powell also is sending his deputy, Richard Armitage.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and six members of Congress met separately yesterday with Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes in Singapore, ahead of an international conference on fighting terrorism and arms proliferation in Asia.
Mr. Fernandes called the situation along the Indian-Pakistani border "stable," while Mr. Wolfowitz said "a war would be somewhere between terrible and catastrophic."
In Kashmir yesterday, Pakistan's military said that Indian fire killed one Pakistani and injured two others. At the same time, India accused Pakistan of killing one border guard and four soldiers. In another incident, five Indian police officers were injured when men suspected to be Islamic militants lobbed a grenade, wire reports said.
According to the 1947 partition of British India, the overwhelmingly Muslim Kashmir went to Indian control because its Hindu maharajah wanted it.
The first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir resulted in a cease-fire line, which became the Line of Control under a 1972 agreement, with Hindu India controlling three-fifths of the Himalayan region.
The United Nations' position since the late 1940s has been that Kashmir's political status should be decided by its people, and a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions have demanded plebiscites. Pakistan has insisted that the resolutions be implemented.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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