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Pakistan’s Leader Criticizes India

January 22, 2002

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP)_ Pakistan’s leader accused arch-rival India of massing troops on the border between the counties to undercut international goodwill Pakistan gained by joining the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

President Pervez Musharraf made the comments to troops stationed along the border with India during a Monday visit. The the nuclear-armed neighbors have mobilized some 1 million men after a suicide attack on India’s parliament Dec. 13 that New Delhi blames on Pakistan-based militants.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited the region last week to urge a dialogue leading to de-escalation. Tensions appeared to cool slightly, but there has been no major breakthrough and rhetoric remains sharp.

``We joined the world coalition against terrorism in the best interest of our country,″ Musharraf said. ``Our adversary, disappointed with the stature that Pakistan has attained as an important coalition partner, has now indulged in hurling false allegations against us and concentrated troops on Pakistan’s border.″

Earlier Monday, India’s foreign minister, Jaswant Singh, chastised reporters in New Delhi for calling Pervez Musharraf the president of Pakistan, saying ``military dictator″ was more suitable. Musharraf, commander of the armed forces, came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999.

Pakistan was near international pariah status because of the coup and its nuclear weapons program. But since Sept. 11, aid and respect have returning after Musharraf positioned Pakistan as a pivotal ally in the war in neighboring Afghanistan against the Taliban and their al-Qaida allies, blamed for the terror attacks in the United States.

The standoff with India, however, has refocused attention on the unresolved conflict over Kashmir, the Himalayan territory divided between India and Pakistan and the flashpoint for two of their three wars.

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