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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
India hits back over 'dangerous' speech
Border Security Patrol in Srinigar
India warns Pakistan is increasing tensions
India has responded angrily to a speech by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, describing it as "dangerous and disappointing".


Evading altogether the central issue of Pakistan's promotion of terrorism, the general unfortunately engaged in an offensive and tasteless revilement of India

Jaswant Singh
In a televised address on Monday, General Musharraf said Pakistan did not want war with India over the disputed region of Kashmir but warned it was ready to respond with full force if attacked.

The Indian statement came as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw held talks with General Musharraf, as part of an initiative aimed at reducing the risk of war between the nuclear rivals.

In what some considered a flexing of muscles, Pakistan test-fired a ballistic missile early on Tuesday - the third such test since the weekend.

'Posturing'

India's Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh, said General Musharraf's speech was "disappointing as it merely repeats some earlier reassurances [about fighting terrorism] that remain unfulfilled today".

"Dangerous because of deliberate posturing, tensions have been added not reduced".

But he ruled out India launching the first nuclear strike in any conflict.

Mr Singh told reporters: "Evading altogether the central issue of Pakistan's promotion of terrorism, the general unfortunately engaged in an offensive and tasteless revilement of India."

"A great pity this, for it contradicts his expressed desire for peace and mocks the expectations of most of the international community."

International pressure

After what he called "constructive and forthright" talks with the Pakistani president, Mr Straw warned how easily the region could slip into war.

Pakistan's Ghaznavi rocket
Pakistan has test-fired a series of rockets
"I do not believe that either side actually wants a war but it is one of those desperately complex and bitter disputes in which a war can nonetheless take place".

Before flying on to Delhi, he called on General Musharraf to match his words on fighting terrorism with deeds.

He said the Pakistani leader had a clear understanding of the international community's expectations.

General Musharraf has accused India of creating "war hysteria" by blaming Pakistan for terrorist attacks and insisted there was no infiltration taking place across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.

As well as Mr Straw, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Safonov is in Islamabad and is expected to extend an offer by President Vladimir Putin to host face-to-face talks between General Musharraf and Mr Vajpayee at an Asian conference next month.

Washington is sending Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to the region next week.

Cross-border firing

Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistan tested a third ballistic missile, capable of carrying warheads accurately up to a range of 180 kilometres (110 miles), but said that this was the last of the current series of tests.


India:
  • Agni II intermediate-range missile
  • Tested 1999
  • 200 kiloton nuclear warhead

    Pakistan:

  • Shaheen II intermediate-range missile
  • Tested 1999
  • 35 kiloton nuclear warhead


  • In response to the tests, Indian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao told the BBC that Pakistan was behaving irresponsibly and engaging in "political and military brinkmanship".

    Since Saturday, Pakistan has launched three missiles in what Islamabad has described as a series of routine missile tests aimed at securing the country's defences.

    The trading of artillery and small arms fire is reported to be intensifying across the international border and the LoC.

    The authorities in Pakistan-administered Kashmir said at least two people had been killed and eight injured in shelling by Indian troops.

    An Indian spokesman said Pakistani forces had unleashed a barrage of shells on the town of Nowshera.

    And there were reports that gunmen had shot dead at least two people on the Indian-controlled side 50 km south of the capital Srinagar.

    India began the military build-up after the attack on the federal parliament in Delhi last December.

    Tension rose again two weeks ago after an attack on an army base in Kashmir in which more than 30 people died.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
    "There is growing international pressure to end the crisis"
    President Musharraf
    "Pakistan will never allow the export of terrorism"
    India's Minister for External Affairs Omar Abdullah
    "If terrorism ends, dialogue will naturally follow"
    Click here fror background reports and analysis

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    See also:

    28 May 02 | UK Politics
    28 May 02 | South Asia
    28 May 02 | South Asia
    28 May 02 | UK Politics
    27 May 02 | South Asia
    27 May 02 | South Asia
    23 May 02 | South Asia
    27 May 02 | South Asia
    28 May 02 | South Asia
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