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Monday, 25 February, 2002, 11:07 GMT
India rules out Pakistan talks
Indian soldiers on guard in Jammu
Delhi is determined to maintain pressure on Pakistan
India has ruled out any resumption of talks with Pakistan until it is convinced that its nuclear rival has stopped supporting attacks by Islamic militants on Indian targets.

The necessary level of military strength and preparedness will be maintained to deter any aggression

President KR Narayanan
President KR Narayanan, in a strongly worded address to parliament on Monday, vowed to maintain the current mass mobilisation of troops on the border with Pakistan.

He also promised firm action against separatist militants in Indian-administered Kashmir, but said the government would talk to any group that laid down its arms.

The tough policy statement was delivered to the first session of the Indian parliament since it was attacked by gunmen two months ago. India has accused Pakistani intelligence of backing the attack.

Islamabad denied any involvement, but the incident triggered a massive military build-up by both sides along their common border.

No dialogue

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, where Islamic militants have been waging a bloody insurgency against Indian rule since 1989.

President KR Narayanan
The president's speech showed no sign of compromise
President Nayaranan strongly reiterated India's view that the militants were terrorists and not freedom fighters, as they are viewed by many in Pakistan.

"We keep hearing calls for a resumption of dialogue with Pakistan. Terrorism and dialogue cannot go together," he was quoted as saying.

He said the 13 December attack on parliament, in which the gunmen and nine policemen died, was another attempt by Pakistan to destabilise India by sponsoring militants.

"It strengthened our resolve to deal decisively and conclusively with this challenge," he said.

Since the attack, almost a million troops have been deployed along the border by the two countries in a tense and dangerous standoff.

Pakistan has cracked down on militant groups inside its own borders, but has so far refused Indian demands to hand over those suspected by Delhi of masterminding the attack.

No compromise

There have been widespread calls internationally for the two sides to scale down their military confrontation, given fears that the current brinkmanship could spark a nuclear conflict.

But President Narayanan stood firm.

Indian and Pakistani guards at Wagah border post
The military minuet is set to continue
"My government has made it absolutely clear that India is determined to end cross-border terrorism by all the means at our command," he said.

"The necessary level of military strength and preparedness will be maintained to deter any aggression."

He said India would not withdraw troops until it was convinced Pakistan had stopped militants from crossing the Line of Control, which divides the disputed territory of Kashmir.

The opening of the parliamentary session, which will discuss the country's forthcoming budget, followed a disastrous showing for the ruling BJP in four state elections.

The party's poor performance in Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayees's home state Uttar Pradesh has caused particular embarrassment.

But analysts say the election results do not pose any immediate threat to the coalition government.

The BBC's Jill McGivering
"The results were shocking"
See also:

29 Jan 02 | South Asia
India snubs Pakistan over talks
13 Jan 02 | South Asia
Bush urges Pakistan-India dialogue
12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Pakistan to regulate religious schools
12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Musharraf speech highlights
14 Jan 02 | Business
Indian and Pakistani markets rally
12 Jan 02 | South Asia
India cautious on Musharraf
12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Musharraf's gamble
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