Pakistan attacks US-India exercises

Pakistan has criticised US and India, both of whom began joint special forces exercises in the sensitive Ladakh region of disputed Kashmir.

    Ladakh area has largely avoided violence engulfing much of Kashmir

    Exercises began Monday and are scheduled to last three weeks. They are the result of closer military relations between India and Washington, built largely since the 11 September, 2001 attacks in New York.

    “This is a territory disputed by neighbouring states so exercises (in the area) are not helpful," Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan told reporters.

    “It may fuel concerns in the neighbouring countries and I think it does not contribute to stabilisation of Asia and the region,”
    he added.

    Israel

    Indian army officials played down the significance of the exercises and said there was no link between them and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the subcontinent today. 

    "The Americans are interested in our counter-insurgency operations. We are interested in new techniques"

    Indian colonel

    “These exercises are part of an ongoing process of interaction between the Indian army and the US," said a colonel at army headquarters who did not wish to be identified.

    “The Americans are interested in our counter-insurgency operations. We are interested in new techniques, equipment, technology, as we expand our special forces,” he added. 
     
    Still, India is fighting a bloody insurgency in Kashmir against rebels, some of whom want independence and others who wish to unify with Pakistan.

    Furthermore, it is also training up battalions of special forces troops which it plans to equip with Israeli assault and sniper rifles.

    "India on the one hand says it wants peace with Pakistan and on the other it is literally on a shopping spree," said Khan.
     

    Allies
     
    Both Pakistan and India have been stalwart allies of the US-led "war against terror."

    Pakistan has closed its borders with Afghanistan in an attempt to contain members of the deposed Taliban government, and has sought out al-Qaida cells.

    Both Pakistan and India also agreed to send troops to Iraq, though said they would only do so under a UN mandate.

    Nuclear rivals Pakistan and India, both of whom maintain large concentrations of troops in their respective zones of Kashmir, were close to their third war over Kashmir last year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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