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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kashmir Peace Plan Reported to Be Near




ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's political and military leaders met Friday to discuss the showdown with India over Kashmir amid reports that a peace formula could be made public in the next 72 hours.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting of the defense committee of the Cabinet to review Islamabad's next step after intense diplomatic pressure to find a solution to the worst showdown with India in three decades.


The News, an independent-minded English-language newspaper, reported from New York in its last edition that a major breakthrough to avert the threat of a third Indian-Pakistani war over Kashmir was expected imminently.


It quoted sources as saying "a formula is being worked out that may be acceptable to both India and Pakistan."


The newspaper gave no details of the formula but said "good news" for the people of India and Pakistan could be made public, "possibly in 48 to 72 hours, depending on the communication and consideration of both governments."


No official comment on the report was immediately available from Pakistani government sources.


A senior government official said the defense committee meeting, attended by chiefs of Pakistan's army, navy and air force and top ministers, would discuss "recent developments" on Kashmir.


He gave no other details but said the meeting was to conclude later Friday.


The News said the meeting followed one by Sharif's foreign policy and defense chiefs Thursday after a visit to India by a former foreign secretary, Niaz Naik, last weekend for talks with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.


Three "broad-based decisions" were taken, according to the report, "in view of the threat coming from across the borders and the war hysteria created by India."


First, Sharif would contact Vajpayee "to give a push to the peace process in South Asia;" second, Naik's talks would continue, and the Indian; and third, Pakistani army heads would establish contact to normalize their tense border.


"It doesn't corroborate anything we've been hearing. I'll believe it when I see it," a Western diplomat in New Delhi said.


He said Naik's suggestion after his visit to New Delhi earlier this week that a solution could be in the making was "a red herring because the Indian position is so black and white."


India has so far ruled out talks until Pakistan withdraws what it calls a mixed force of insurgents and army regulars who captured strategic heights in the Kargil area of Indian Kashmir overlooking New Delhi's lifeblood military supply lines.


Pakistan says the force comprises freedom fighters, and it has no control over men who have been waging a guerrilla war for the past decade to wrest control of India's only Moslem-majority state from New Delhi.