- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 27, 2001

The United States yesterday blacklisted two Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant groups, accused by India of carrying out an attack on its Parliament, as terrorist organizations, and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell stepped up diplomatic pressure to ease tensions between the two nuclear rivals.
Both India and Pakistan put missiles on alert and prepared for a war they said they didn't want, but their border was relatively calm yesterday after daily exchanges of gunfire since the Dec. 13 gun-and-grenade attack on the Indian Parliament that killed 14 persons, including the five attackers.
Mr. Powell, indicating that Washington supports New Delhi's charges that two Kashmiri groups, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, were involved in the attack, added the two to the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.
"These groups, which claim to be supporting the people of Kashmir, have conducted numerous terrorist attacks in India and Pakistan," the secretary said in a statement.
"As the recent horrific attacks against the Indian Parliament and the Srinagar legislative assembly so clearly show, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and their ilk seek to assault democracy, undermine peace and stability in South Asia, and destroy relations between India and Pakistan," he said.
The legislative assembly in Srinagar, the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, was attacked Oct. 1. Thirty-eight persons died in the assault.
Mr. Powell said the September 11 terrorist attacks "made it clear that the United States must use every tool at its disposal to combat terrorism."
The two militant groups' designation as terrorist organizations allows the United States to freeze their U.S. assets, bans contributions from U.S. citizens and groups, and authorizes U.S. missions abroad to refuse entry visas to their members.
In a flurry of phone calls yesterday, the secretary tried to lower the temperature between New Delhi and Islamabad as they moved troops to their border. Trains heading to the frontier in India's western state of Rajasthan were full of soldiers, reports from the region said, and Indian air force jets flew over the border town of Jaisalmer every seven minutes.
Mr. Powell spoke twice with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and told them that "it's critically important that there be lessening of tensions," said State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker.
Both sides indicated yesterday that they were looking at diplomatic options to avert a war, which would be the fourth between the two nations.
India recalled its ambassador to Pakistan late last week and announced that bus and train services between the two countries will end Tuesday. Further action could include a ban on Pakistan airline flights, abrogation of a water treaty, embassy downgrade and cancellation of Pakistan's most-favored-nation trading status.
Pakistan said it would "act with restraint," but Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar accused New Delhi of trying to intimidate Islamabad, saying India has "something sinister in mind."
"India should know that Pakistan is in a position to make an effective defense of its territory. Our forces are absolutely well prepared to counter any aggressive move," Mr. Sattar told state-run Pakistani television.
Under pressure from Washington, Gen. Musharraf condemned the Parliament attack, and his government froze the assets of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed and arrested Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar. He also spoke out against Muslim militants in Pakistan, saying they "undermine Islam."
Mr. Singh described those actions as "trickery" and "cosmetic."
At the State Department, however, Mr. Reeker said Gen. Musharraf has proven that he is a "capable and reliable coalition partner" in the war on terrorism and "has taken the courage to publicly challenge the role of extremist groups."
In addition to his calls to New Delhi and Islamabad yesterday, Mr. Powell also spoke with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Mr. Reeker said. Earlier this week and during the weekend, he talked to Mr. Sattar and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
Meanwhile, India confirmed that a summit of seven South Asian leaders, including Gen. Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, will take place next week in Katmandu, Nepal.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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