ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s foreign minister urged the United Nations on Sunday to quickly mediate the dispute over Kashmir or risk a fourth war between Pakistan and India, the world’s newest nuclear powers.
Gohar Ayub, who met with U.N. special envoy Advaro De Soto on Sunday, told The Associated Press that the relentless cross-border attacks in the disputed Kashmir region could quickly spin out of control.
Pakistan claims Indian soldiers killed 26 civilians in the past week in attacks on Pakistani villages strung out along the northern territory’s contested border. India denies that any civilians were killed.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, two-thirds of which is controlled by India and the rest by Pakistan. Both have staked claims to the whole province. The two rivals also fought over Bangladesh when it was East Pakistan.
Ayub said it’s likely that a fourth war between the two unfriendly neighbors would result in the use of nuclear weapons — a concern that has prompted De Soto’s peace mission.
In Beijing, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Sunday that India was acting “unwisely” in denouncing a joint U.S.-China statement issued Saturday calling on the two nations to refrain from pursuing nuclear weaponry.
De Soto is trying to defuse tensions heightened by last month’s testing of nuclear weapons by both Pakistan and India. He canceled a trip to India after New Delhi said he was not welcome.
India has flatly rejected international mediation.
Between June 1997 and January 1998, Pakistan and India held eight separate negotiation sessions, involving prime ministers and foreign ministers, to talk about Kashmir and other issues. But Ayub said nothing was achieved.