India: No halt to terror infiltration
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Terrorist infiltration from Pakistan has not ended, India's defense minister charged Tuesday, saying terrorists are waiting to infiltrate from Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
Speaking to Star Television News Monday, Defense Minister George Fernandes said India's options in dealing with Pakistan were becoming fewer and fewer.
"In POK (Pakistani-occupied Kashmir) there are terrorists who are waiting to infiltrate," Fernandes said.
Among them, he said, were Taliban fighters from Afghanistan and members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network.
Nuclear rivals Pakistan and India have been at odds over Kashmir for more than five decades, and have fought two of their three wars over the disputed Himalayan region.
Although both countries have deployed between them an estimated one million troops along the international border and the Line of Control in Kashmir, Fernandes denied the two were close to war.
"We are not on the brink," he said. "The fact is that troops are on the border, but to say that they are on the brink of war would not be proper."
Tensions between Pakistan and India escalated earlier this month after an army camp in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir was attacked, killing more than 30 people.
India blamed the incident on Pakistani-based Kashmiri separatists which it says are given funding and training by Islamabad.
Pakistan has denied the Indian charges -- a stance that was repeated by President Pervez Musharraf in a televised address Monday evening.
"Pakistan cannot be held responsible for those activities by freedom fighters in occupied Kashmir," he said, adding that nonetheless Pakistan "will always support the Kashmiri struggle for liberation."
He also condemned terrorism. "Pakistan is doing nothing across the Line of Control and Pakistan will never allow the export of terrorism anywhere in the world from within Pakistan," he said.
However, despite Musharraf's statement Fernandes said terrorists were continuing to cross the border.
"On the contrary, I have intelligence reports which say ISI (the Pakistani intelligence service) is planning more strikes in many parts of the country," Fernandes said.
"It appears that reason is not finding any place in the leadership of Pakistan. Our options will become fewer and fewer. Which option will finally prevail is something on which I cannot comment."
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