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India Continues Troop Buildup, Charges Pakistan - 2002-01-01


Pakistan says India is continuing to build-up forces along their common border. A military spokesman, Major-General Rashid Qureshi, told reporters in Islamabad that Indian military movements along the tense border continue to be seen as a threat to Pakistan. "As far as Pakistan is concerned, India continues to build up its capability," said General Qureshi. "All along the border in Kashmir, there is continuing Indian military build up. There is concentration of forces far in excess of what we have seen in the past. The closeness to the border and to the Line of Control [dividing Kashmir] poses a threat to Pakistan."

General Qureshi says India has also fully activated its forward air bases and there are also Indian naval movements. "Pakistan continues to very, very closely monitor each movement that the Indian armed forces make," he went on, "and continues to take appropriate defensive measures so Pakistan is not surprised and is not caught unaware."

Military tensions between India and Pakistan have mounted since the suicide attack on the Indian parliament building last month that New Delhi blames on Pakistan-based militants, fighting in the disputed Kashmir region.

India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring the attack, saying it was meant to wipe out its political leadership. Pakistan denies the charge and has promised to punish anyone responsible for that attack but not without proof. The two nations have deployed forces along the border, which is said to be the largest build up in 15 years.

On Monday, New Delhi gave Pakistan a list of 20 anti-India "terrorists" allegedly operating in Pakistan and has demanded they be handed over. But a Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman, Aziz Khan, says India has not provided any proof that those on the list committed crimes. "We will certainly take action on that if evidence is provided," said Mr. Khan. "This list does not contain any evidence against those people and in the absence of evidence it is very difficult to take action against any individual or group."

While there continues to be no plan for separate India-Pakistan talks at this week's South Asian regional summit meeting in Nepal, Mr. Khan says his country welcomes Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee New Year's statement that he is willing resume dialogue with Pakistan.

But the spokesman rejects the Indian Prime Minister's remarks, in the same statement, that Pakistan has adopted an anti-India policy. "If Pakistan had an anti-India policy, President Musharraf would not have gone to Agra, [India, and] we would not have been talks about holding talks with India. Pakistan would like to resolve all outstanding disputes, including the core issue of Jammun and Kashmir, through talks, through peaceful means," said Mr. Khan.

Pakistan President General Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee held historic talks in the Indian city of Agra July. But those negotiations broke down over the Kashmir dispute, which has caused two wars between India and Pakistan. It remains a major source of conflict in the region.

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