- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2002

NEW DELHI India prepared for war with Pakistan yesterday, although senior officers said offensive operations would have to wait for the end of searing summer temperatures and the monsoon rain that follows.
Delhi placed all paramilitary units along the border under army control and the coast guard under naval command.
The foreign minister, Jaswant Singh, said this was "standard operating procedure" when preparing for war.
The country's military is planning for conflict in September, although New Delhi has announced a diplomatic offensive to avoid conflict.
[In Washington, State Department officials said Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage plans to travel to the region, probably early next month, in an attempt to ease tensions between the nuclear armed rivals.]
With the subcontinent enduring a heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring as high as 122 degrees officers conceded that an offensive at the moment would be impossible.
"There will be war but, in all likelihood, it will take place after the summer and the monsoon rains," a senior army officer said, declining to be named.
There was no other way the Indian army could "let off steam and teach Pakistan a lesson," he said.
The two sides continued to trade artillery fire across the border for the fourth day in a row.
Indian officials rejected proposals by Pakistan for independent observers to be deployed along the border.
"The figures of infiltration [by Islamic militants] have gone up," said an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nirupama Rao. "There's no point in seeking to deflect attention by talking of involving third parties."
In Pakistan, Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan appealed for international efforts to ease tensions.
"We hope the international community will increase further its efforts considering the hostile postures adopted by India and convince India to see reason and come to the negotiating table for discussions and dialogue."
India accuses Pakistan of providing Islamic militants with bases and sending them to fight in Kashmir.
Nearly 1 million men have been mobilized on both sides of the border since an attack by militants on the Indian Parliament five months ago.
Pro-war sentiment is widespread in India. Retired Maj. Gen. Afsir Karim, a member of the National Security Council Advisory Board, said: "We have neither economic nor diplomatic clout against Pakistan and the only instrument left is the military one."


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