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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

India Accuses Pakistan Of Seeking To Infiltrate Its Military

New Delhi (AFP): New Delhi accused Pakistan of encouraging Indian soldiers to betray their country on Monday and said it had launched a massive operation to weed out those who had become spies.

The allegation came after India said on the weekend it had arrested an army sergeant for allegedly handing secret military papers to a Pakistan High Commission employee, sparking a new spy row between the nuclear-armed rivals.

"It is a matter of extreme concern that the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) is trying to infiltrate and subvert our armed forces," Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in the Indian capital.

Pakistan has denied that its employee was involved in espionage activity.

There was no immediate reaction from Islamabad to New Delhi's latest charge.

"Our intelligence networks in all the three services are active as there have been inputs that the ISI is trying to infiltrate the services and also make some of the personnel corrupt," Mukherjee said.

He said the armed forces had launched a major hunt for spies in its million-plus army.

"Sometimes we catch moles. But this time the exercises are aimed at nailing the kingpins," Mukherjee said.

Two months ago, Pakistan threw out a visa councillor from the Indian embassy in Islamabad on charges of espionage and India retaliated by expelling a Pakistani diplomat on similar charges.

That round of expulsions was the first since 2002 by the rivals who have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region of Kashmir since the subcontinent became independent in 1947.

The statements came as India's national security advisor came under opposition fire after saying New Delhi may have no "clinching" proof of Pakistan's alleged involvement in the deadly Mumbai blasts.

National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan said Sunday that India had "pretty good" although not possibly "clinching" evidence that Pakistani's spy agency was involved in the July 11 explosions that killed 186 people.

"The national security advisor has weakened our stand about the ISI's involvement in the Mumbai train bombings," senior Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said earlier this month that New Delhi would provide Islamabad with evidence of alleged Pakistani links with the serial blasts on commuter trains.

Indian authorities have charged that the ISI and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group helped plant the bombs.

Pakistan has rejected the Indian claims and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir, has also denied involvement.

The two countries have agreed to resume peace talks next month in New Delhi after the process was put on ice by the Mumbai bombings.

The evidence was expected to be supplied to Pakistan during the mid-November talks between the foreign secretaries.
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