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Musharraf to Crack Down on Militant Islamic Groups - 2001-12-24

Pakistan's president says he will crack down on two Pakistani Islamic groups blamed by India for a recent deadly attack on its Parliament - if he finds proof to support the charge. Washington has just frozen the assets of one of the groups Lashkar-e-Taiba calling it a terrorist organization.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said his government is committed to fighting any form of terrorism - both at home and abroad. "We are taking a very comprehensive look at the entire issue of terrorism emanating from anywhere - especially from our country," he said. "We are ourselves a victim of sectarian extremism and we are taking action against that."

The Pakistani leader saaid that includes Pakistani Islamic groups proven to been linked to acts of terror.

India accuses two Pakistani-based groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad of supporting the December 13 attack on its Parliament. More than a dozen people were killed.

President Bush is urging Pakistan to take action against the groups. Last week Washington added Lashkar-e-Taiba to the U-S list of terrorist organizations whose financial assets will be frozen. That list already includes Jaish-e-Mohammad.

The attack on Parliament has again plunged India and Pakistan into a confrontational stance. The two nuclear powers have since shot at each other in the disputed Kashmir region and India has recalled its ambassador.

China has called for restraint in the conflict between India and Pakistan.

President Musharraf is on the last day of his five-day visit to China, designed to shore up relations with its decades-long ally. China is a key arms supplier to Islamabad, which it sees as a counter balance to India. China and Pakistan have fought wars with India over the past few decades.

Some observers say that by visiting China so soon after the attack on India's Parliament, General Musharraf is sending the message that Pakistan needs China as much as it needs the United States. Pakistan has cooperated closely with Washington in the war against terror since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.