Indian minister denies calling Pakistani president
By SAM DOLNICK,Associated Press Writer AP - 1 hour 29 minutes ago
NEW DELHI - Pakistan said its air force was put on high alert during the deadly Mumbai attacks after the president received a "threatening" late-night call that Islamabad believes came straight from the Indian government.
But India dismissed the call as a hoax and its foreign minister on Sunday flatly denied that he was involved.
The circumstances surrounding the call are unclear but underscore the high tensions and deep mistrust between the nuclear-armed rivals, which have fought three wars against each other.
Indian accuses a banned Pakistani-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, of training the gunmen and plotting the attacks that left 171 people dead in the country's commercial capital.
On Sunday, Pakistan took its first known action against extremists since the attacks as troops raided a Lashkar camp near the town of Muzaffarabad, located in the Pakistani part of the disputed Kashmir region, two militants said Monday. More than 12 people were arrested.
The two militants spoke on condition of anonymity because they belong to an illegal organization. Details were confirmed by a senior Pakistani intelligence official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
If the phone call to President Asif Ali Zardari came from India's foreign ministry, as senior Pakistani officials claim, it would be another tense episode in one of the world's most volatile relationships.
In 2001, after suspected Pakistani militants attacked India's parliament, both countries rushed troops to the disputed Kashmir region in preparations for a fourth war. Tensions cooled, and relations have improved since peace talks began in 2004, but enmity has remained.
There have been no known major troop movements since the three-day Mumbai siege ended Nov. 29, but India's Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said India will "act decisively ... with all the means at our disposal."
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told ABC's "This Week" that India had a right to make an "effective response" to the attacks, but stressed New Delhi should not do anything that could cause a crisis in the region.
"We don't need something that will set off unintended consequences and a more difficult situation," she said.
A senior Pakistani diplomat said Saturday that he had "circumstantial evidence" that India's military had been preparing to attack Pakistan.
Pakistani Information Minister Sherry Rehman said a "threatening" call to Zardari on Nov. 28, when the attacks were still under way, definitely came from India's External Affairs Ministry. She did not explicitly say the call was from Mukherjee, but two other government officials said it was him. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Mukherjee flatly denied that Sunday, saying, "I had made no such telephone call."
It was "worrying that a neighboring state might even consider acting on the basis of such a hoax call," he said in a statement.
"I can only ascribe this series of events to those in Pakistan who wish to divert attention from the fact of an attack on India from Pakistani territory by elements in Pakistan," Mukherjee said.
The statement said India found out about the call from another country _ apparently from the United States, which has been seeking to lower tensions in the region _ and had sent messages to Pakistan saying that no such call was made.
The call was reported in the Pakistani media as a hoax, and one newspaper said Indian officials believed the caller ID could have been manipulated to make it look like a New Delhi number.
Pakistan has said it is prepared to cooperate with India if authorities prove the attacks came from Pakistani soil. It has denied any of its state agencies were involved, noting it too is a victim of terrorism, and pointed to "non-state actors."
Rice said she has pressed Pakistan to hold accountable anyone behind the attacks who is living in the country.
"I did say to the Pakistanis that the argument that these are non-state actors is not acceptable," Rice told ABC. "In fact, non-state actors acting from your territory is still your responsibility."
Associated Press writers Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar, Ashok Sharma and Gavin Rabinowitz in New Delhi, Manik Banerjee in Calcutta, Munir Ahmad in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Raphael G. Satter in London contributed to this report.
Recommend this article
Average (0 votes)
Sign in to recommend this article »
Most Recommended Stories »
Related Articles: Asia Pacific
Sri Lanka say troops poised to take rebel HQAFP - 25 minutes ago
Expect consequences, Chinese media warns France's SarkozyAFP - 31 minutes ago
Thai opposition may take power, army's aid hintedAP - 32 minutes ago
Japan urges Chinese ships to leave disputed watersAP - 37 minutes ago
Chinese media slams Sarkozy for Dalai Lama meetingAP - 57 minutes ago
Most Popular – Asia Pacific
Diamond thieves pull off 100-million-dollar Paris heist
Girl, 8, among 17 dead in Manila shoot-out: police
Vinnie Jones gets into bar fight over role in X-Men
Oil price falls below $40
Climate change: Sci-fi solutions no longer in the margins
View Complete List »