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July 13, 1999
PoK unhappy with pullout
People of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir have voiced acute disappointment at the government decision to withdraw intruders from Kashmir.
Ordinary people in Muzzafarabad near the Line of Control said the decision was an enormous setback for the Pakistanis.
''This will disappoint the people who will lose trust in Pakistan,'' said Shujaat, a university student.
''The withdrawal of the militants has disappointed the whole nation,'' said fellow student Yasmeen. ''The government should not have done this.''
''The withdrawal of the Mujahideen from the Kargil heights is an insult for the whole Muslim world,'' she added.
It was hard to find a voice raised in support of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief's decision to ask the militants, most of whom have offices around Muzaffarabad, to surrender Indian territory ''won in their most spectacular victory to date''.
India and some Western governments have accused the Pakistani army of using regular troops to capture the strategic heights in the Batalik-Drass sectors of Kashmir but people in Muzaffarabad say it was the work of militants.
Businessman Shanawaz said the pullout was the most serious setback for the militants in the 52 years since Pakistan was created.
The Sharief government has lionised the Mujahideen and their 'freedom struggle'.
Ayesha, a school teacher, said the withdrawal would put the Kashmir issue on the backburner, rather than internationalising it as Sharief said it has been.
''The Mujahideen pullout will also encourage India. I am really shocked over the agreement on Kargil,'' Ayesha said.
Few people expressed any relief that the agreement had avoided a fourth Indo-Pakistani war since Independence from Britain in 1947. India and Pakistan both carried out nuclear Tests last year.
Some said they hoped that Sharief's pledge that the agreement would swing Washington behind Pakistan's call for direct, real talks with India on Kashmir might bear fruit.
''I am happy that the two countries reached an agreement and decided to settle their issues through talks,'' said Shaukat Nawaz, a housewife.
''India and Pakistan now should seriously negotiate their outstanding issues, including Kashmir, so there will be peace and prosperity in the region.''
India rejects anything that it sees as third-party mediation on Kashmir, saying it is a bilateral problem that has to be solved between Islamabad and New Delhi.
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