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India: Pakistani Militant Groups, Intelligence Linked to  Parliament Attack - 2001-12-20

Tensions between India and Pakistan remain high, following Indian threats to launch retaliatory strikes against alleged terrorist bases in Pakistan.

Pakistan is calling on India to present evidence of its assertion that the terrorists that attacked the Indian parliament last week were based in Pakistan.

A Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aziz Khan, told reporters Thursday that any hostility on its border or against the military line of control in the divided region of Kashmir will be met with force.

"We hope that the situation would not be allowed to get out of hand, it would not be allowed to escalate. Pakistan is excising maximum restraint. Pakistan wants a resolution of these problems through peaceful means, through negotiations," Mr. Khan said.

Pakistan has strongly denied any involvement in last Thursday's attack on the Indian parliament and has offered to carry out a joint investigation with India into the incident. Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, has promised to punish anyone responsible, but only when India produces evidence showing the attackers were from Pakistan.

India has said it has evidence that the attack was carried out by two Pakistan-based militant groups: Lashkar-e-Taoib and Jaish-e-Mohammed, with the help of the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI. But an Indian foreign ministry spokeswomen Nirupama Rao says her country will share the evidence only with what she calls "friends and partners," who are united in their determination to fight terrorism.

Last week's attack on the Indian parliament claimed 13 lives, including the five attackers. The incident has worsened already troubled relations between India and Pakistan. Reports say Indian troops were seen moving toward the border with Pakistan.

Tensions between India and Pakistan are causing concern for the international community. The United States, which is trying to eliminate terrorist bases in Afghanistan, has advised the two nations to avoid escalating animosity at this sensitive time. Kenton Keith is a spokesman in Islamabad for the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition.

"We in the coalition hope that India and Pakistan will continue to play positive roles that they have played in the coalition against international terrorism. We hope that they will keep their focus on the unfinished business in Afghanistan and we believe, we are encouraged to believe, that that is what will happen," he said.

Pakistan is a key partner of the United States in the global war against terrorism. But India alleges that Islamabad is the main sponsor of terrorism in the region.

Both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and have fought three full scale wars, two of them over Kashmir, which remains a major source of tensions in the region.