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Musharraf: Pakistan ready 'for the worst'

Pakistan arrests leader linked to Parliament attack

Musharraf: Pakistan's military and 140 million people are
Musharraf: Pakistan's military and 140 million people are "fully prepared to face all consequences with all their might."  


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's president Sunday repeated calls for dialogue with India, but said "we are prepared for the worst" in the standoff between South Asia's nuclear-armed rivals.

"If any war is thrust on Pakistan, Pakistan's armed forces and the 140 million people of Pakistan are fully prepared to face all consequences with all their might," Gen. Pervez Musharraf said.

India and Pakistan have massed troops on either side of their common border and in the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir in the wake of a December 13 suicide attack on India's Parliament that left 14 people dead.

India blames Kashmiri militants based in Pakistan for the attack and demands Pakistan shut down the groups it holds responsible.

Pakistani authorities Sunday arrested Mohammed Saeed, the leader of Lashkar e-Tayyiba, one of two groups India accuses of engineering the attack on parliament, Pakistani government sources said.

The head of the other organization linked to the attack, Maulana Azhar Massood of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, was arrested five days earlier.

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AUDIO
Vijay Dutt, London-based journalist with the Hindustan Times has India's perspective
1.7 MBs / 2 mins 40 secs
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Shahed Sadullah, Journalist with the Daily Jang has Pakistan's perspective
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The U.S. has called Lashkar e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed "terrorist organizations," freezing their U.S. assets and denying visas to their representatives.

Lashkar e-Tayyiba in response has accused Washington of attacking Islam, and vowed to continue its jihad.

Saeed was arrested Sunday for making inflammatory speeches and inciting people to violence, according to Pakistani government sources.

In New Delhi, meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee received support from all of India's political parties for his actions in the crisis so far.

Vajpayee convened a meeting of India's political parties to seek their backing Sunday. He said India does not want war with Pakistan, but that its neighbor must take stronger action against Islamic militants operating in its country.

"The nation should be ready for any eventuality," read a resolution passed at the meeting.

Musharraf held a similar, but more selective, meeting in Islamabad Sunday. The meeting drew criticism from leaders of four parties complaining they were not invited to take part.

Pakistani officials accused Vajpayee of pushing for war. Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar told CNN that India has massed six to eight army divisions, backed by hundreds of warplanes, on its border.

"We are prepared to enter into a dialogue with India at any place, at any level, anywhere, at any time," Sattar said.

But, he added, "the other side has to be ready, and there is no indication so far that the Indian prime minister wants to work for peace in the region."

Musharraf and Vajpayee are expected to attend a South Asian summit in Nepal that starts Friday. The prospects of a bilateral meeting between the two leaders there appeared slim, however.

Each country has been insisting the other make the first move to stop the steady escalation.

Prime Minister Vajpayee
Vajpayee addresses a national executive meeting of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi  

India has repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting guerrillas battling Indian control over part of Kashmir. Islamabad has said it offers only moral support for what senior Pakistani officials call "freedom fighters."

More than 61,000 people have died in more than 10 years of attacks on Indian forces and civilians in Kashmir, Arun Jaitley, a senior minister in Vajpayee's government, told CNN.

"We in India have been facing a warlike situation from Pakistan in the last several years -- the kind of insurgency which has been encouraged by Pakistan, the cross-border terrorism which has been perpetuated by Pakistan," Jaitley told CNN.

Indian troops Sunday were still moving toward the Line of Control in Kashmir and the deployment of thousands of troops was expected to be complete sometime later in the day.

Lalit Mansingh, India's ambassador to the United States, insisted Sunday that "we are not asking for war."

"We are trying diplomacy, and we hope that diplomacy will succeed," Mansingh told reporters in Washington.

A war between India and Pakistan would hinder the U.S.-led campaign against the remnants of Afghanistan's Taliban and the al Qaeda terrorist network, which U.S. officials blame for the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

President Bush urged India Friday to take note of Pakistan's recent roundup of militant leaders. Sattar told CNN that Musharraf's government was clamping down on two organizations India blames for the attack on parliament as well as three others.

"In addition, we have placed the head of one of these organizations and 50 other persons under protective custody," he said.

Mansingh called the response inadequate.

"We don't know who these 50 people are. That's not enough," he said. "There must be a list of people arrested, so that we know what is their status and what is their importance in the organization."

-- CNN Correspondents Michael Holmes and Tom Mintier contributed to this report.



 
 
 
 


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