India And Pakistan On Brink Of War
By Coomi Kapoor in Delhi
and Zahid Hussain in Islamabad
The Times of London

India and Pakistan moved closer to a state of war yesterday, as Delhi recalled its envoy from Islamabad and sealed border crossings and both sides deployed thousands of reinforcements along their frontier.
The sabre-rattling raised fears around the world that the two nuclear powers were on the brink of a new round of bloodshed, which would undermine the international coalition,s war against terror in the region.
India began the escalation when it withdrew Vijay Nambiar, its High Commissioner in Islamabad. The move is more than a symbolic diplomatic protest.
Only twice before, in 1965 and again in 1971, has Delhi recalled its envoy. On each occasion the two countries were at war shortly afterwards.
The action followed growing demands across the political spectrum in India for the Army to attack two militant Islamic groups that are based across the border in Pakistan and accused of carrying out the attack last week on the Indian Parliament that left 14 dead, including the five assailants.
India and Pakistan last clashed in 1999 in a mountain battle at Kargil in the disputed Kashmir province. Hundreds of Indian and Pakistani troops were killed.
This time the stakes are even higher. In addition to reinforcements along the Line of Control, which separates the two sides in Kashmir, tanks, artillery and infantry have also been deployed along the normally peaceful Rajasthan-Sind border.
Yesterday,s escalation began when India launched a verbal assault against its historic rival, accusing Pakistan of "sponsoring last week,s suicide attack on the Indian Parliament. Pakistan hit back by charging the Indians with provocation and warning Delhi that it would defend itself if attacked.
The threats and counter- threats caused alarm in Washington and London, which are preoccupied with trying to complete their operations against terrorist suspects in Afghanistan and instal a new government in Kabul. To achieve that they need stability in the region and the help of President Musharraf of Pakistan.
Western sources said that they feared that the Pakistani leader was not able to control elements of his military and intelligence services, who were deliberately encouraging extremist groups in the hope of provoking a clash with India.
Western officials privately appealed to India to show restraint, but the Government in Delhi was under mounting public pressure to respond decisively.
In addition to recalling its envoy, India cut road and rail links, including the DelhiLahore bus service, which was opened only two years ago as part of a peace drive between the two neighbours.
The Indian authorities alleged that the five gunmen involved in last week,s gun and grenade attack were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, two Kashmiri rebel groups based in Pakistan.
Indian investigators claim that the conspiracy to storm Parliament House in Delhi was hatched in Pakistan and that the cellphone records of the dead assailants and the confessions of those arrested for abetting them establish Pakistan,s involvement.
On Thursday the Indian Government produced one of the accused, an Indian named Kashmiri Mohammed Afzal, before the media. He said that the suicide squad was from Pakistan and that he was the link man between them and Jaish-e-Muhammad.
The Indian Government is upset by what it considers the US,s refusal to accept the evidence of Pakistan,s role in continuing to foment terrorism in India and believes that the US is deliberately turning a blind eye because it does not want General Musharraf to be destabilised.
Pakistan has rejected India,s accusations that its intelligence service supported the attack and said that it would take no action until India supplied proof. India on Thursday rejected a US request to share its evidence with Pakistan so that General Musharraf could crack down on the militants.
Most defence observers agree that the situation in the region is the most serious since May 1999 when Pakistan,s military intrusion in Kashmir brought the two nations close to a full war. The danger was averted when Pakistan pulled out its troops from Kashmir,s Kargil mountain post under US pressure.,,2001570014-2001583290,00.html

This Site Served by TheHostPros