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Wednesday, 26 December, 2001, 17:22 GMT
China urges border restraint
india
Leave has been cancelled for India troops
China has called for calm as India and Pakistan square up along their joint border and in the divided province of Kashmir.


As a neighbour and friend of both countries, China is very concerned

Chinese Foreign Ministry
India and Pakistan have sent in troops amid tension stemming from a suicide attack on the Indian parliament nearly two weeks ago, which India blames on two groups based in Pakistan.

The foreign ministry in Beijing said it was very concerned by the current situation; India and Pakistan, it said, should solve their dispute through talks to prevent instability in South Asia.

India said China's calls should be aimed at Pakistan.

The United States, meanwhile, has stepped up pressure on Islamabad to shut down two groups blamed for the parliament attack by designating them foreign terrorist organisations under US law.

Water threat

India remains adamant that the ball is now in Pakistan's court.

"It is for Pakistan to take action against the terrorist outfits" operating from that country against India," a government spokeswoman in Delhi said.

missiles
India's Prithvi missiles: In position near border

China's call for calm came as India's Cabinet Committee on Security met to discuss further pressure on Pakistan, including a possible ban on Pakistan airline flights and cutting off a major water supply.

External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said the meeting would continue on Thursday because Defence Minister George Fernandes had been unable to return on Wednesday from a visit to Indian-administered Kashmir.

Mr Fernandes earlier told the BBC that Pakistan had declared war on India and something had to be done.

"When India is attacked in the way it was, frankly what Pakistan has done is wage war against India," he said.

Pakistan has arrested the leader of a Kashmiri militant for offences in Pakistan, and has asked India to provide further evidence.

But India says the arrest of Maulana Masood Azhar, although a step in the right direction, does not go far enough.

It wants Pakistan to hand over Kashmiri militants it claims were behind the attack on the parliament building in Delhi on 13 December.


When India is attacked in the way it was, frankly what Pakistan has done is wage war against India

Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes
The groups blamed for the attack, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, have already been cited by US President George W Bush as terrorist organisations.

The latest move by US Secretary of State Colin Powell freezes the assets the two groups might have in the United States and makes it illegal to support them financially.

"Today I am taking another important step in our campaign to eliminate the scourge of terrorism," he said.

Links severed

Despite the rising tensions, Delhi-based defence analyst and former Indian army major Maroof Raja told the BBC that India would not risk losing international support with military action.


But it could impose economic sanctions by abandoning a 30-year-old agreement which allows Pakistan access to water which passes through Indian territory.

"That is Pakistan's lifeline, so it would have a huge shock to Pakistan."

India, which has already severed diplomatic and transport links between the two countries, has ordered thousands of villagers to leave the disputed Kashmir region.

Both countries have moved extra soldiers to front-line positions and there has been more small-arms and mortar fire across the line of control in Kashmir.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Fiona Werge
"Both sides are ratcheting up the war rhetoric"
Editor of Ausaaf newspaper Hamid Mir
with background information on the arrest
Pakistan's presidential spokesman General Qureshi
"He has been making certain statements that were designed to incite people inside Pakistan"
See also:

24 Dec 01 | South Asia
Kashmir police 'smash al-Qaeda cell'
24 Dec 01 | South Asia
Pakistan freezes militant funds
23 Dec 01 | South Asia
India-Pakistan tensions sharpen
21 Dec 01 | Americas
More groups join US terror blacklist
15 Dec 01 | South Asia
India steps up pressure on Pakistan
15 Dec 01 | South Asia
Suspects held over parliament raid
13 Dec 01 | South Asia
Pakistan leads world condemnation
18 Dec 01 | South Asia
India facing tough choices
23 Dec 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Al-Qaeda threat lives on
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