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India fires warning to Pakistan
At a time when peace efforts are slipping and terrorist infiltration into Kashmir is picking up, the much celebrated Agni-II missile test on Sunday may have been deliberately timed to send a message to Pakistan, many believe.

But Indian officials insist the testing of India's most potent nuclear missile was purely for technical purpose.

The test also came a week before foreign ministers of the two countries are to meet in New Delhi to lay the grounds for the first meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President General Pervez Musharaf in New York during the UN General Assembly in end-September.

On Sunday, Pakistan was quick to respond by calling for "strategic restraint" in the "interest of both nations".

Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman said his country was not in "favour an open-ended arms race in South Asia."

The third test of Agni II came a week before the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan are set to meet in New Delhi to review the peace progress and finalise the agenda for Singh and Musharaf to discuss in New York.

Pakistan on Sunday hinted that it would take up the issue of strategic restraint with India during the September 5-6 meeting of the foreign ministers in New Delhi which any way would be clouded by India's renewed allegation that terrorist infiltration from Pakistan has picked up.

Indian officials said they are concerned about the rising infiltration levels, threat to moderates among Hurriyat that in turn has affected dialogue with them, and the losing momentum of peace process. "In fact losing momentum of peace talks is directly linked to the rising infiltration levels and other developments in Kashmir," a senior official said.

They point out that the radio communication across the border between terrorists in Kashmir and their contacts in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir have also gone up drastically.

Besides, the infrastructure of terrorism is "alive and active" in Pakistan with many terrorists camps reopening and several others shifting to new premises, the official said.

Level of infiltration, radio communications across the border, and terrorist camps in Pakistan are among the major yardsticks with which India measures Pakistan's seriousness to end state support to Kashmir terrorism.

The official pointed out that in the last couple of months number of terrorists who have come in from across the border has shot up to new heights. "And a few hundred terrorists are waiting at the launch pads. The situation is almost back to the days before Parliament attack," he argued.

Last week the Cabinet Committee on Security met to finalise the Indian stand for the foreign ministers' meeting in New Delhi. And the meeting decided to articulate India's concerns regarding infiltration.

There was no immediate confirmation if Agni-II test on Sunday, just a week before the highest formal diplomatic exchange between Manmohan Singh government and Musharaf regime on bilateral issues, was deliberately meant to send out a message to Pakistan.

But the timing smacks of the usual Indo-Pak missile antics. Till this morning, India had not received any formal notification from Pakistan about intended missile tests. The two sides are to notify each other before any missile tests as part of existing confidence building measures.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:10 AM


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