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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Defiant Pakistan Draws Line in Sand

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan/NEW DELHI, India -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf rejected all forms of terrorism and cracked down on violent Muslim militant groups Saturday while telling India it was time to talk, although his troops were ready for war.

With a million men poised for war on both sides of the Pakistan-India border, Musharraf said in his address to the nation that India must not dare to cross the line and his people must not interfere in the business of other countries.

"Pakistan's armed forces are fully deployed and prepared to face every challenge. We will shed the last drop of our blood for the defense of the country," he said in a speech laced with a mix of saber-rattling and peace-making.

"Do not attempt to cross the border in any area because we will retaliate with full force," the military ruler said. "Let there be no misunderstanding."

India on Sunday called on Pakistan to match words with action and said it would not call off its military buildup until Islamabad delivered on a promise to end Islamic militant attacks on its neighbor.

External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said Pakistan must stop all movement by militants into Indian Kashmir or elsewhere in India before it ended the biggest military buildup since the two nuclear rivals won independence in 1947.

"Let there be no further infiltration or cross-border terrorism," Singh told a news conference. "We have to go not by the stated intent but by the action on the ground."

The United States was quick to welcome Musharraf's speech, which outlined a vision for a modern Islamic Pakistan, with a State Department official saying the strategy provided "a basis for both sides to ratchet down the tension."

Analysts said Musharraf had put the ball back in India's court with his mix of fighting words and an appeal for talks.

Pakistani police said that while Musharraf was delivering his speech, Indian forces opened fire on a string of border villages on the Pakistani side of a cease-fire line separating the two countries in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Musharraf, eager not to appear to be bowing to Indian demands while cooling tempers, banned five militant groups, saying they were stirring sectarian hatred at home, and included the two pro-Kashmiri organizations accused by India of the attack last month on its parliament that sparked the latest crisis.

But he stressed that the issue of Muslim-majority Kashmir that has soured ties with India ever since independence in 1947, must be solved through negotiation, words unlikely to find favor with India, which claims the whole region as its own.

Musharraf's speech came at the end of a day that saw the arrests of about 250 Muslim activists in police raids on religious schools, or madrassas, belonging to radical Islamic groups in the volatile southern port city of Karachi.

The president vowed to bring madrassas, as well as mosques, under government control.

Among the five groups Musharraf banned were the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based groups India blamed for the attack on its parliament in New Delhi on Dec. 13.