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DATE=3/8/2000
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
TITLE=PAK / CLINTON VISIT
NUMBER=5-45594
BYLINE=SCOTT ANGER
DATELINE=ISLAMABAD
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:
INTRO:  Pakistan is welcoming President Clinton's 
decision to make a brief stop in the country during 
his visit to South Asia, later this month.  As V-O-A's 
Scott Anger reports from Islamabad, observers and 
officials believe the visit will help reduce 
Pakistan's rising tensions with India over the 
disputed Kashmir region.
TEXT:  As the decades-old dispute between India and 
Pakistan over Kashmir continues to threaten peace and 
stability on the sub-continent, many in Pakistan say 
they hope President Clinton's visit will help re-start 
dialogue between the two neighbors.
 Pakistani Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tariq Altaf says 
Mr. Clinton's visit will give the president the 
opportunity to see the volatile situation, first-hand.
            ///ALTAF ACTUALITY///
Kashmir is considered the most dangerous nuclear flash 
point in the world today.  The peace and security in 
the South Asian region is a fragile and tension-filled 
situation here.  He (Clinton) will have the 
opportunity of holding consultations with Pakistani 
leaders, getting their perspectives and getting 
Pakistan's point of view on the security situation, on 
relations with India on how peace can be promoted in 
this region.
            ///END ACTUALITY///
The Himalayan region of Kashmir lies at the heart of 
the rivalry between Pakistan and India.  The region 
was divided between the two nations after British rule 
in South Asia ended in 1947.  India controls two-
thirds of Kashmir and Pakistan the rest.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir 
and came close to a third, when the uneasy neighbors 
waged a bloody border battle that threatened to erupt 
into all-out war last year.
Both countries have tested nuclear devices and 
declared themselves nuclear powers.
Retired Pakistan army general-turned-analyst Talat 
Masood says there is a growing fear that a low-
intensity conflict between the two countries could 
explode into a nuclear war.  Mr. Masood says it is 
very important that the two sides re-start dialogue.  
He says, for that to happen, they will need outside 
assistance.
            ///MASOOD ACTUALITY///
It is not possible for the two countries -- by 
themselves -- to really resolve this conflict.  It 
needs international intervention.  It needs mediation.  
No country is better placed than the United States and 
President Clinton, at this point in time, to bring 
home to these two countries (Pakistan and India) the 
importance of getting back to dialogue.
            ///END ACTUALITY///
High on President Clinton's agenda -- in addition to 
regional peace and nuclear non-proliferation -- is 
Washington's call for the return of democracy to 
Pakistan.
The military ousted elected Prime Minister Nawaz 
Sharif in a bloodless coup last October.  The military 
government has accused Mr. Sharif's government of 
economic mismanagement, corruption and destroying 
state institutions.  The former prime minister is on 
trial, charged with hijacking, attempted murder and 
kidnapping.
Washington imposed sanctions against Pakistan after 
the coup and has pushed the military leader, General 
Pervez Musharraf, to restore democracy as soon as 
possible.
Observers say Mr. Clinton's visit will give a boost to 
relations between Pakistan and the United States.  But 
Mr. Masood says he does not see any substantial 
benefits to Pakistan.
            ///MASOOD ACTUALITY///
In the immediate term, I would not expect that his 
(President Clinton's) visit would have any immediate, 
tangible results in the form of any great benefits 
either in the economic or political field.  It's more 
of a goodwill gesture and it will enhance Pakistan's 
position.
            ///END ACTUALITY///
President Clinton will travel to India and Bangladesh 
during the week of March 20th.  The White House has not 
given a date for the Pakistan visit -- which will be 
the first by an American president since Richard Nixon 
stopped in the country in 1969.   (SIGNED)
NEB/SA/WD
08-Mar-2000 06:18 AM EDT (08-Mar-2000 1118 UTC)
NNNN
Source: Voice of America
.





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