|Saturday, 12 January 2002|
Pakistan gets fighter jets from China as India makes its case in US
NEW DELHI, Jan 10 (AFP) - In an announcement likely to raise hackles in India, Pakistan Thursday said it had received 10 fighter aircraft from China but insisted the deal was unrelated to the current military stand-off between Islamabad and New Delhi.
A few hours earlier India's Home Minister L.K. Advani launched a broadside against nuclear rival Pakistan during a visit to Washington, signalling there would be no let-up in the diplomatic or military tensions engulfing South Asia.
Defence officials in Islamabad said they had received the first batch of 40 Chinese-made F-7PG fighters in December and the rest would be delivered this year.
"The delivery of the planes and the deal itself have no connection at all with the current crisis between India and Pakistan. It was a deal which was made early last year," one official said.
Pakistani officials also denied local press reports that China had supplied new defence equipment to Pakistan to bolster its capability in the current stand-off with India.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who is preparing a major policy speech on militancy, has visited his country's key ally China twice in less than a month.
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji is due to visit India Sunday, but Beijing has said he will not be attempting to resolve tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi.
In Washington Advani called for immediate action from Pakistan on Indian demands for a crackdown against militant groups, which India brands terrorists.
"Pakistan must act -- sincerely, decisively, demonstrably and speedily," he said in a statement distributed to reporters at a press conference.
The demands include the handover of 20 militants and the closure of training camps, arms supply routes and funding of "terrorist" groups on Pakistani soil.
Pakistani authorities have arrested the leaders and other members of two groups, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India blames for carrying out the December attack on its parliament which triggered the current crisis.
But New Delhi says that Islamabad has not gone far enough.
Advani met US Secretary of State Colin Powell who announced he would be going on a peace mission to the region next week, following hot on the heels of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who visited India and Pakistan earlier this week.
The US has praised President Musharraf for his action against militants, but Powell also called on Islamabad to intensify the crackdown.
Adding to the signs that the military stand-off is likely to drag on, The Hindu newspaper here said India would not withdraw its troops from its western border with Pakistan soon as they were part of a strategy to negotiate a deal with Islamabad.
"The mobilisation of ground troops along the borders is central to the strategy that will strengthen India's hands during future negotiations," it said, quoting Indian government sources.
"The mobilisation has been central to the intense international pressure now being imposed on President Pervez Musharraf for a crackdown on terrorists of all hues."
Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes made a flying visit to Kashmir to review security arrangements in the state, where both sides have massed troops along the Line of Control -- the de facto border that divides the Muslim-majority Himalayan state between India and Pakistan.
The Indian Kashmir government said it had drawn up contingency plans for residents living near the border with Pakistan in the event of war.
"This includes construction of community and household bunkers in border areas and keeping all essential services operational," Kashmiri divisional commissioner Pervez Dewan said.
Thousand of people have fled their homes along the border fearing that
war could break out between the nuclear foes.
Produced by Lake House