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Musharraf: Nation is with the army

Indian troops
India and Pakistan have deployed a million troops along their border  


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says his nation prefers peace but is ready, if necessary, to wage war with India in the disputed region of Kashmir.

"If the war is imposed on us, then India must know that we want peace, but not at the cost of our sovereignty," he told troops stationed at the Line of Control Wednesday.

Musharraf said that if New Delhi started a war with his country, the fighting would be carried back into Indian territory.

"If you come one inch across the Line of Control, it will create a crisis that Pakistan armed forces will not fight along this side, but across the border," he warned.

"Our strategy is not only defensive, but victory is achieved through offense, and I have said already that all the nation is with the army."

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has ended a trip to India, leading a flurry of diplomacy to try to defuse tensions, stressing that war is not inevitable, and urging Pakistan to crack down on militants.

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Speaking shortly before his departure from New Delhi, Straw said neither India nor Pakistan ultimately wanted a fight, but added it was Pakistan's responsibility to crack down on terror attacks from its territory on Indian targets.

Between them Indian and Pakistan have deployed around a million troops along their border and the Line of Control in the disputed region of Kashmir.

With tensions high, diplomats say even a relatively small spark could ignite a full scale conflict with devastating consequences.

In the past days the two countries have renewed their war rhetoric after Pakistan test-fired three missiles in the space of four days -- all of them thought to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads into India.

Straw spoke to reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday before ending his South Asian peace mission. (Full story)

"Every country is under an imperative to deal with terrorism, including terrorism masquerading as freedom fighting," Straw said, referring to Kashmiri separatists who launch such attacks.

He said dialogue between India and Pakistan can only take place in an atmosphere that fosters an end to terror attacks. Responsibility for cracking down is with countries from which terror emanates, he said. "That is Pakistan."

Asked about the difficulty for Pakistan to control such terror, Straw said some attacks may not be able to be avoided, but "it does not obviate the responsibility for dealing with terrorism in their country."

The conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir has escalated in recent days, and troops from both sides are massed along the border. Both sides exchanged fire in the disputed area again on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, 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.

Since then, troops have skirmished daily across the Line of Control dividing the Indian and Pakistani-administered sections of Kashmir as India has continued to point its finger at Pakistan.

In more fighting, six people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir state in India along the Line of Control and eight people were reported killed in Pakistan along the international border with India.

Earlier, Straw held a news conference with Indian Minister of External Affairs Jaswant Singh, who said Pakistan must "recognize the urgency of the situation."

Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, "has had all the time he wants" to crack down on terror," Singh said.

Meanwhile an editor at a newspaper in Kashmir, Zafar Iqbal, was critically wounded when militants stormed into his office in Srinagar and shot him, police said. The English-language newspaper, Kashmir Images, is six months old. (Full story)



 
 
 
 






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