Tuesday, December 23, 2008

India and Pakistan Edging Towards War?

Bluster or not, tensions are on the rise between India and Pakistan in the wake of the horrific Mumbia attacks in November:

n signs of growing regional tension since the Mumbai attacks last month, Pakistan scrambled fighter jets over several of its larger cities Monday, and India's foreign minister told a gathering of Indian diplomats in New Delhi that the country is keeping all its options open to bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice.

"We have so far acted with utmost restraint," Pranab Mukherjee told the more than 120 envoys from posts around the world. But he added, "We will take all measures necessary as we deem fit to deal with the situation."

A senior government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, later called Mukherjee's tough talk "an expression of political will that India will not take this lying down." He added that the option of "precision airstrikes" on terrorist training camps in Pakistan would remain on the table if Islamabad did not act effectively against groups fomenting terrorism against India.

On Monday, Pakistan put its air force on high alert, with several fighter jets conducting exercises over the capital, Islamabad, as well as Rawalpindi, Lahore and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Offices of newspapers and television channels were inundated with calls from people asking whether the exercises, which caused delays in some civilian flights, were a response to airstrikes by India.

A Pakistani air force spokesman, Commodore Humayun Viqar, said in a statement, "In view of the current environment, PAF has enhanced its vigilance."

India is continuing to demand that Pakistan end its support for terrorists operating in the country. For their part Pakistan officials continue to deny any involvement in planning the attacks or supporting terrorist organizations.

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