- NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD (Reuters)
- India said on Wednesday its missile systems were in position and it had
deployed fighter jets to bases along the Pakistani border where terrified
villagers fled possible war between the nuclear rivals.
- India and Pakistan, who have fought three wars in barely
half a century, traded fire in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir
and bolstered forces along their 2,070-mile border in the biggest build-up
in almost 15 years.
- Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes said the
missile systems were "in position," but did not elaborate.
- India, pressing Islamabad to crush Kashmiri separatists
operating from Pakistan, also said the detention of a rebel leader there
did not go far enough, undermining hopes the move could help defuse the
- The Cabinet's security committee met Wednesday to decide
the next step in the row sparked by the December 13 suicide attack on the
Indian parliament, but adjourned until Thursday without a decision because
Fernandes was absent.
- India blames the attack on two Pakistan-based groups
fighting Indian rule in Kashmir and has demanded Islamabad crush
- Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf used a speech
Tuesday to warn India that Pakistan was ready for anything.
- "Let me assure my countrymen that your armed forces
are fully prepared and capable of defeating all challenges," he
- As tensions rise, Indian police said Pakistani forces
fired at least 12 artillery rounds in Kashmir overnight, forcing the
of at least 200 civilians.
- DAILY FIRE
- Both sides are now trading daily mortar, machinegun and
small arms fire along the cease-fire line dividing Kashmir.
- Fears of war and the fallout weighed heavily on India's
financial markets, driving down stocks, bonds and the rupee.
- Asked if fighter planes had been moved to forward bases
over the past couple of days, a defense ministry spokesman told Reuters:
"Yes, that has been happening."
- He described the move as a "precautionary
- India's military has canceled some leave and its Army
Day parade scheduled for January 15, but officials say Republic Day
will go ahead as planned on January 26.
- Indian newspapers also said Pakistan had moved medium
range ballistic missile batteries into forward areas, quoting un-named
Indian sources. Pakistani comment was not immediately available.
- Analysts say the saber-rattling is worse than the Kargil
conflict of 1999 when the two countries came close to war after hundreds
of armed intruders crossed into Kashmir's Kargil sector from Pakistan,
prompting a huge Indian air and ground offensive.
- Then, communications were more open and India did not
withdraw its top envoy from Islamabad as it has done now. But they also
point out the situation on the ground is so far calmer.
- In India's west, military convoys headed for the border
while a steady stream of civilians carrying household goods and food
headed the other way, fearing war and unable to work fields now taken over
by the military.
- District officials in the western desert state of
said blackout exercises were being held in border districts at night to
prepare civilians ahead of a possible war.
- "Sirens are sounded, air force planes will fly over
the cities and no power generator sets will be allowed to function,"
one district official told Reuters.
- Two thirds of the people in some villages have already
- "Every morning, we get up to work in our fields
and discover more and more of our land occupied by tanks and artillery
guns," said farmer Jagjit Singh. "We return home, unable to do
- REBEL DETAINED
- India has demanded Pakistan arrest leaders of
and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which it says were responsible for the attack on
in which 14 people died.
- Both groups deny any involvement.
- The United States has declared Jaish a terrorist
- Pakistan has condemned the parliament attack and said
it will act against the groups if it is shown evidence of their involvement
and has detained Jaish leader Maulana Azhar Masood.
- It has also told banks to freeze the assets of both
- It was unclear where Pakistani police had taken Masood,
although a Jaish leader had said Tuesday he was detained in his home in
the central Punjab town of Bahawalpur.
- Jaish sources said the police had also rounded up 37
other group activists in the Bahawalpur area.
- Without referring specifically to Masood, Indian Foreign
Minister Jaswant Singh said after the cabinet committee the actions against
"terrorist groups" in Pakistan "made a mockery of the
of the situation and the enormity of the issue."