General Pervez Musharraf accused New Delhi of not responding to his proposals to end nearly 60 years of enmity between the two nuclear-armed nations.

 

The wobbly peace process between the old enemies is making slow progress and relations between the two countries face a new chill over New Delhi's charges that Islamabad has done little to stop violence directed against India.

 

Musharraf said in an interview aired on Saturday by Indian TV channel CNN-IBN: "There's not much of a response from the Indian side. That is why the disappointment."

 

The military ruler, however, floated a new proposal to bring peace to Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan region that is at the heart of India-Pakistan rivalry and the cause of two of three wars between the two sides.

 

Musharraf said Pakistan would ensure that there was no violence by separatists fighting against New Delhi's rule in Kashmir if India withdrew its troops from Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramulla cities in the Kashmir valley.

 

He said: "Pakistan will be with the Indian government, with the Kashmiris, to ensure that there is total peace and tranquillity within these three cities."

 

Kashmir claims

 

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full but rule it in parts. New Delhi blames Islamabad for a 16-year insurgency in Kashmir which has killed tens of thousands of people.

 

There are 500,000 Indian troops
deployed in Kashmir

Kashmir is one of the world's most militarised regions with an estimated 500,000 Indian troops deployed in the area under New Delhi's control.

 

Pakistan has for long demanded that India reduce troop levels in Kashmir but India has refused saying it would do so only if Islamabad stopped violence in the region.

 

Ties between the neighbours improved significantly after they launched a new peace process in 2003 after coming near the brink of another war over Kashmir in 2002.

 

However, violence in Kashmir and elsewhere across India over the past few months, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based Kashmiri fighters, yet again strained relations.

 

Cricket diplomacy

 

Musharraf launched a fresh round of "cricket diplomacy" between the two countries and invited Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, to visit Pakistan to watch a cricket match between the teams of the two countries.

 

Musharraf (R) visted Delhi last
year to watch a cricket match

Early last year, Musharraf visited Delhi to watch a one-day international cricket match between India and Pakistan and held talks with Singh on the sidelines, where the two leaders declared the peace process as irreversible.

 

The Indian cricket team this week began a six-week tour of Pakistan.

 

Musharraf said: "I invite him to Pakistan to watch any part of the series. I want the peace process to move forward. Now if he comes here and we do nothing about the peace process, I am afraid we are just wasting our time."

 

Tribal violence 

 

Meanwhile, assailants on Saturday ambushed and killed a pro-government tribal elder and four of his relatives, including a five-year-old girl, in a remote part of northwestern Pakistan, a government official said.

 

Laeeq Hussain Tori, South Waziristan's top government official, said Isa Khan was in a car travelling near Kotzai village when "terrorists" killed him, his brother and three other relatives.

 

At least 60 elders have been
killed in South Waziristan violence 

Khan's father, Khandan Malik, had been killed in a similar manner last year.

 

In recent years the family had helped the authorities hunt down suspected militants in the region, a known hide-out for alleged al-Qaida and Taliban sympathisers.

 

Tori did not say who he believed was behind the latest attack. Officials have blamed militants in the region, where Pakistan has deployed thousands of troops to trace and arrest al-Qaida-linked fighters and their supporters.

 

At least 60 elders have been killed since they began co-operating with the Pakistani army following the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States.