India Mulls 'Pre-Emptive' Pakistan Strike, Cites U.S. Iraq War Precedent


JODHPUR, India (AFP) - Defence Minister George Fernandes reiterated Indian warnings that Pakistan was a prime case for pre-emptive strikes.

"There are enough reasons to launch such strikes against Pakistan, but I cannot make public statements on whatever action that may be taken," Fernandes told a meeting of ex-soldiers in this northern Indian desert city on Friday.

The renewed warning came just hours after US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington would strive to cool tensions between nuclear enemies Pakistan and India, who have fought three wars since 1947.

Fernandes said he endorsed Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha's recent comments that India had "a much better case to go for pre-emptive action against Pakistan than the United States has in Iraq."

Sinha also argued that Pakistan was "a fit case" for US military action, because it had weapons of mass destruction and terrorists.

Fernandes also rejected Pakistani allegations that India had breached United Nations Security Council resolutions from 1948 to 1957 which call for a plebiscite among Kashmiris to choose rule by India or Pakistan.

"Pakistan has a habit of lying and the issue of cross-border terrorism is a serious issue," Fernandes said.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training Muslim militants in Kashmir. Islamabad denies the charge but says it offers moral and political support to what it describes as Kashmiris' legitimate struggle for self-expression.

Around 38,000 people have died in Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, since the launch of the armed insurgency by Islamic guerrillas in 1989 in the Himalayan territory.

Pakistan and India both claim the scenic region, which is divided between them by a ceasefire line known as the Line of Control, with Pakistan controlling the northern part and India the south.


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