Amanpour: Pakistan military on high alert
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell works to ease tensions between Pakistan and India while cementing support for the campaign in Afghanistan, the Pakistani government has announced that it has put its army on high alert.
Maj. General Rashid Qureshi, a spokesman for Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, made the announcement Wednesday, saying the move was in response to a recent strike by India in the disputed region of Kashmir.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour is in Islamabad, and she filed this report:
AMANPOUR: In an extraordinary development, as Colin Powell is in this region talking to both the leaders of India and Pakistan about other things including Kashmir, Maj. General Rashid Qureshi, a government spokesman for President Musharraf, entered a regularly scheduled briefing, and he has just announced that Pakistan has put its army on high alert because of information he says it has that India is also moving troops. Here is what he just said.
QURESHI: We have information wherein India has moved some troops and relocated some air force assets which may prove to be a threat. This action when seen in the context of the irresponsible remarks of their newly appointed defense minister, and also the unprovoked fighting that they resorted to two days earlier against civilians in Asad, Kashmir, as well as across the working boundary … has become a cause of concern. The Pakistan armed forces are fully alive to the situations and are on a high state of alert, ready to thwart any event at mischief or misadventure.
AMANPOUR: The firing that Qureshi was referring to was on Monday night. Just an hour before Powell set foot here in Pakistan, Indian forces announced that they had launched an attack to make what they said was punitive raids on Pakistani military positions to thwart insurgents invading, or rather infiltrating, into Kashmir.
The point is here that Powell has been talking about many things, not just this war on terrorism, but especially on Kashmir at this moment. The U.S. administration is very concerned that India particularly might take this opportunity to provoke a conflict, and this is not what the U.S. administration wants to see.
Remember that these two countries are both nuclear powers, and the other day President Bush urged both countries to stand down over Kashmir. Powell has talked with both leaders and offered to try to help in this situation, and right now we have this latest development that Pakistan has put its forces on high alert.
Now in the other matter of the continuing war in Afghanistan, U.S. forces continue to pound targets around Afghanistan day and night. We have reports from our sources in Kabul and particularly in Kandahar that there have been exceptionally heavy raids on Kandahar.
Already the Taliban have claimed and have shown pictures of what they said was a bus that had been hit, causing what they said was 18 civilian casualties. And just lately we have had reports from our own sources inside Kandahar, who say that they feel that the bombing is at such a state that it is hitting populated areas, and they said they visited at least one house where they saw the remains of civilian casualties, including women.
So that is the latest that we have here. We're waiting for full confirmation of that report from Kandahar.
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