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Musharraf Warns India - 2002-03-23

Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf has delivered a stern warning to India during an address to the nation to mark Pakistan's National Day.

Pakistan marked its National Day Saturday without the customary military parade, which is normally the centerpiece of the celebrations. In a televised speech to the nation, President Musharraf said the parade was canceled because all the country's armed forces are deployed along the border with India.

He said his country wants to settle the Kashmir dispute and other bilateral issues with India through talks. But Pakistan, he says, has the capability to defend itself against any "Indian aggression."

President Musharraf says that India "should have no illusions". He says, "anybody who poses a challenge to our security and integrity will be taught an unforgettable lesson."

Tensions between the South Asian nations have been running high since a terror attack on the Indian Parliament in December, which New Delhi blames on Pakistan-based separatist guerrillas.

Both countries have deployed hundreds-of-thousands of additional troops along their common border. The international community has appealed for a de-escalation of tensions. Both countries have already fought three wars, two of them over the divided region of Kashmir.

Islamabad has said repeatedly that it is willing to enter into a dialogue with New Delhi. Indian leaders are demanding that Pakistan hand over 20 wanted men accused of terrorism in India, before any normalization.

President Musharraf has promised to take action against any non-Pakistanis wanted in India for terrorist acts, provided New Delhi supplies evidence against them.