The United States on Monday praised President Pervez Musharraf for following up on a pledge to crack down on radical groups -- but warned prospects of a military clash between India and Pakistan were still dangerously high.
On the eve of Secretary of State Colin Powell's departure on a crucial trip to South Asia, his spokesman Richard Boucher commended Musharraf for a drive against militants launched in a bid to defuse tensions which flared after an attack on India's parliament.
"President Musharraf has clearly stated that Pakistan will not tolerate terrorism under any pretext, including Kashmir. And we're pleased to see that his government is taking action on that pledge," he said.
Pakistani police rounded up almost 1,400 alleged religious extremists in a new purge launched soon after Saturday's speech against five groups banned by Musharraf, Pakistani officials said Monday.
But India warned the detentions were not enough to defuse the military stand-off on the border, where the nuclear neighbours have been posied for war after the December 13 parliament attack blamed by New Delhi on Pakistan-based militants.
Boucher said that the United States had consistently tried to paint a clear picture of the dangers of a military conflict between India and Pakistan -- both of which have massed thousands of troops on their borders.
"I would continue to say the situation remains dangerous; the forces remain along the Line of Control (in disputed Kashmir). The prospects for military confrontation remain high.
"And so I don't think I can say that the tensions have eased at this point."
(China Daily January 16, 2002)