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India Plans No Military Action Against Pakistan Over Mumbai Attacks

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has again said there is still no conclusive evidence to support the claim that the Mumbai attackers received training from terrorist camps inside Pakistan. The Pakistani president made the comment in a BBC interview, as India continues to press Pakistan to crack down on terrorists operating from Pakistani territory. The heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations is a cause for concern.

In the weeks since the November 26 terrorist attacks in India's financial capital, Mumbai, tensions have been high between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Tuesday, India's Defense Minister A.K. Antony tried to allay widespread fears of a war with Pakistan.

"We are not planning any military action. At the same time, unless Pakistan take actions against those terrorists who are operating in their soil against India, and also against all those who are behind this Mumbai terrorist attack, things will not be normal," he said.

The Pakistani army has for long time differentiated between the Taliban militants on its border with Afghanistan and Kashmiri rebels that have clashed repeatedly with Indian security forces. The army has described the rebels as freedom fighters, while India considers them terrorists.

This differentiation remains a problem, says Stephen Cohen at the Brookings Institute in Washington.

"The deeper problem is that some Pakistanis, perhaps the Pakistani military, sees some of these groups as acting in their [the army's] own interest. That is to balance out Indian pressure, and to undercut India itself," he said.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has vowed to crackdown on anti-India militants and has arrested dozens of suspects in connection with the Mumbai attacks.

Washington-based author and analyst Shuja Nawaz, who just returned from Pakistan, says he found almost all Pakistani leaders in total agreement on eliminating terrorism.

"All the leaders that we met more or less agreed on this point that it is in Pakistan's interest to ensure that there is no home for militancy within the country because it is a cancer that is spreading through the body politic of Pakistan," Nawaz said.

Both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons but western observers do not believe the current tensions will lead to war. While this may have been the objective of the Mumbai attack, Stephen Cohen says the two neighbors realize the futility of war.

"I don't think it [a war] will accomplish any thing either for India or for Pakistan," he said. "It might mean the end of Zardari government, and certainly the Indian government will not benefit from this."

Analysts say India is showing restraint because it does not want to hurt the nascent democracy in Pakistan following more than eight years of military rule.

"The frustration in India is of wanting to promote democracy in Pakistan or seeing that democracy is in the long-term interest of the region," said Lisa Curtis, a South Asia expert at the Heritage Foundation. "But you still have a power struggle it seems in Pakistan, and democracy has not been able to take root."

Yet the Mumbai attacks have had serious repercussions. On Monday, India said its peace process with Pakistan has been put on hold - an action the Pakistani government said it regrets.