Confrontation: India and Pakistan
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BETTY ANN BOWSER: Military forces and tensions along the Kashmir border separating India and Pakistan have been building, and so has the rhetoric since the December 13 suicide attack on the Indian parliament which left 14 people dead. The Indian government blamed two Pakistan-based Kashmir Islamic militant groups– Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Lashkar-e-Taiba or LET– and demanded the Pakistani government shut them down. Both groups have denied responsibility. Pakistan has arrested some 30 members of the two groups, including Maulana Azhar Masood, founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed, who was detained yesterday. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf warned rival India yesterday against any aggression, but on the day honoring the founder of modern Pakistan, he also blamed Muslim militants for tarnishing the country’s image.
PRESIDENT PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: We confront an external and internal challenge, but let me assure my countrymen that your armed forces are fully prepared and capable of defeating all challenges by the grace of Allah. ( Applause )Those irresponsible politicians who issued distorted and self- serving statements to cause dissent amongst the forces have no clue about the unity and discipline that our forces enjoy. The armed forces will, inshallah, measure up to the expectations of the Qaaed.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: And Indian prime minister, Atal Vajpayee, told a youth group of his Hindu Nationalist party that retaliatory measures were in store for Pakistan.
ATAL VAJPAYEE, Prime Minister, India (Translated ): We do not want war, but war is being thrust on us and we will have to face it. Pakistan is demanding a joint investigation. But how can we have an investigation jointly with the accused? Those who want evidence, should come and look at our parliament building. The bullet marks on our parliament are proof that the attack was a well-planned conspiracy. We have said that this time the war should be one that settles the issue of terrorism once and for all.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: And India’s security cabinet committee met today to discuss “further diplomatic offensives” against Pakistan. According to the foreign minister, that could include a possible ban on Pakistan airline flights and a cancellation of Pakistan’s “most favored nation” trading status. President Bush has condemned the attack on the Indian parliament and linked the response by both countries to the U.S. War on terrorism. India and Pakistan have been active frontline participants in the U.S.-led anti-terror coalition.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: American power will be used against all terrorists of global reach, and so today I’m adding another terrorist organization to the list of those whose assets are blocked by my executive order. Lashkar-e-Taiba is an extremist group based in Kashmir. LAT is a stateless sponsor of terrorism, and it hopes to destroy relations between Pakistan and India and undermine Pakistan’s president Musharraf.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir since the two countries were created out of British India in 1948. The current “line of control” was established in 1972, dividing Kashmir into two sections: The north controlled by mostly Muslim Pakistan, and the South by mostly Hindu India. Border clashes of varying intensity have occurred almost daily over the last decade. The death told from fighting numbers more than 30,000.