- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 23, 2001

XI'AN, China The leader of Pakistan yesterday criticized the Indian government as high-handed for recalling its ambassador from Pakistan amid high tensions over the suicide attack on the Indian Parliament.
Asked whether Pakistan would respond in kind, President Pervez Musharraf answered, "No."
"We regret the very arrogant and knee-jerk response of the Indian government," Gen. Musharraf said, after praying at the Great Mosque in the central Chinese city of Xi'an.
He declined to comment on a call by President Bush for Pakistan to act against a Pakistan-based Islamic group that India has linked to the Dec. 13 attack at the Parliament compound in New Delhi.
But officials in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, said the nation's central bank was likely to issue instructions soon to freeze the group's assets.
On Friday, India's government announced it was recalling its ambassador from Islamabad and cutting rail and bus links with Pakistan.
Analysts in New Delhi characterized the move as a symbolic gesture to underline India's demands on the Musharraf government while trying to prevent the dispute between the nuclear-armed neighbors from escalating.
Pakistan and India, which have their armies on alert and have beefed up military forces along the border since Dec. 13, have fought three wars since 1947, and their troops often skirmish.
Heavy gunfire was exchanged at 44 border posts last night, United News of India reported.
India blames Pakistan-based Islamic militants for the Parliament raid that killed nine Indians and the five attackers, and is demanding that Gen. Musharraf take action against militant groups in Pakistan.
India has long accused Pakistan of arming, training and financing Islamic guerrillas waging an insurgency in the portion of the Kashmir state that lies within India.
Pakistan's government insists it provides only ideological support to the rebellion, and denies allowing any terrorist groups on its territory.
The government also denied responsibility for the raid, condemning the attack.
Indian officials said yesterday they wanted to see action, not words. "The international community will judge the response by what concrete action Pakistan takes," the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
On Friday, Washington also urged action by Pakistan, which has been a crucial ally in the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan.
Mr. Bush said Gen. Musharraf should "take decisive action against Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and other terrorist organizations, their leaders, finances and activities."
India blames the attack on the two groups named by Washington, although Mr. Bush put only Lashkar-e-Taiba on a U.S. list of terrorism sponsors on Friday.
Both groups have denied involvement in the attack.
In Xi'an, Gen. Musharraf would not talk about Mr. Bush's statement, saying only that Islam is a peaceful religion and that Muslims "don't believe in any violence."
Gen. Musharraf is making a state visit highlighting the close relations between China and Pakistan. China is a key supplier of arms and technology to Pakistan, and both countries have prickly relations with India.
On Friday, the Pakistani leader promised to "wholeheartedly support" China's battle against Muslim separatists in its western region of Xinjiang, Chinese state media said.
At the mosque yesterday, he urged Chinese Muslims to be "very patriotic" and to work for "the good of China."
China is eager to make its fight against the separatists part of the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign.
It claims hundreds of guerrillas from Xinjiang's Uighur Muslim ethnic group have trained in Afghanistan.
China has blamed the separatists for sporadic bombings and killings in the region.


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