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Pakistan reneging on promises says India

Foreign minister says militant incursions on the rise

Both sides have large numbers of troops on alert along their shared border
Both sides have large numbers of troops on alert along their shared border  

Staff and wires

NEW DELHI, India -- India's newly appointed foreign minister has accused Pakistan of reneging on promises to halt infiltration by Islamic militants into Indian territory.

Speaking to reporters shortly after taking office Wednesday, Foreign Minister Yaswant Sinha said the number of incursions was on the rise again, despite Pakistani pledges aimed at cooling tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

"Initially there was some evidence of some reduction in infiltration which in recent days seems to have gone back to the situation that was prevailing prior to May 24," he said.

His comments are thought to refer to a pledge, made by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in May, that he would not allow Pakistani soil to be used as a base for launching terrorist attacks on other countries.

That statement was seen as key to easing weeks of mounting tensions between the two South Asian neighbors, who had both stepped up their war footing.

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But Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan "categorically" rejected India's allegations on Wednesday.

"There are no incursions across the line of control," he told Reuters news agency, referring to the ceasefire line dividing Pakistani and Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region.

New Delhi accuses Pakistan of providing funding and training to militants it accuses of carrying out a series of attacks against Indian targets, including a daring raid on the Indian parliament last December.

Pakistan denies the Indian charges saying that it only gives moral support to groups fighting what it calls a "freedom struggle" in the disputed Muslim majority region of Kashmir.

Fear of war

The row sparked a tense military stand-off between the two countries, who between them massed around a million troops along their shared border and the so-called Line of Control that divides Kashmir between them.

Prior to Musharraf's statement in May, diplomats feared the dispute could erupt into a potentially devastating war involving the use of nuclear weapons.

In the subsequent weeks however tensions have cooled markedly following a flurry of international diplomatic visits, although the regular exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops across the Line of Control have continued.

India has said its troops will remain in position and on full alert along the border and Line of Control until such time as it is convinced that militant incursions have halted permanently.

Last week Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said he did not foresee war breaking out with Pakistan, but he remained to be convinced that militant incursions into India would halt permanently.

On Tuesday the United States urged the two governments to refrain from "provocative actions" and keep on backing away from the possibility of war over Kashmir.

Tensions have eased somewhat, U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said, "but we still have armies deployed along a common border and the Line of Control."




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