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Pakistan Counters India's Move, More Troops Sent to Border - 2001-12-27

Pakistan says it has matched India's troop buildup and is ready to retaliate in "all conceivable ways" to any Indian military strike. Tensions between the two countries continue to rise and both have reinforced their troops along their common border.

Pakistani officials are calling on India to de-escalate tensions and settle bilateral differences through talks. But a government spokesman, Major General Rashid Qureshi, told reporters Thursday his country has taken "required" measures to counter any Indian aggression. Nevertheless, he says, Pakistan does not want the conflict to escalate.

"All defensive safeguards that Pakistan needed to take have been taken. We hope that better sense prevails and India does not escalate. Because we have the capacity to react or retaliate in all conceivable ways," the spokesman said.

The military buildup by the two nuclear-armed nations is being described as the largest in 15 years. Troops and weapons are still being moved toward the borders from both sides. Reports say Pakistani forces have deployed anti-aircraft guns at the Karachi airport and other important installations around the country.

The military buildup has generated fears of a war between India and Pakistan. But Pakistani spokesman Rashid Qureshi says a nuclear war between India and Pakistan is "unthinkable".

"I am sure India and Pakistan are responsible nations. It's something I don't think anyone can realistically even think of. These are deterrents, which are not meant to be more that that. It's something that I think one shouldn't even consider," Mr. Qureshi said.

Pakistan denies Indian allegations that it sponsored the December 13 attack on India's parliament, in which 14 people were killed, including the five attackers. New Delhi blames Pakistan-based militant organizations Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jash-e-Mohammad for carrying out the attack, with the support of Pakistan's spy agency, ISI.

Islamabad is urging India to provide proof that the attackers were from Pakistan. It has frozen accounts of the two Islamic groups, which are now added to the U-S official list of international terrorist organizations.

Over the past few days, Pakistani authorities have detained more than 50 activists of Jash-e-Mohammad including its leader, Masood Azhar.

However, India has called Islamabad's actions "cosmetic". It is demanding that Pakistan shut down training camps, halt recruitment of volunteers and block infiltration of the Muslim militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir. The two countries have already fought three wars, two of them over the divided region of Kashmir.