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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

India Plans War Games on Border

NEW DELHI, India/ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- India plans large-scale war games along its tense border with Pakistan as both sides played down hopes a keenly awaited speech by Islamabad will ease tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

At least one Indian child died and two were hurt when Indian and Pakistani troops fired mortars and machine guns at each other Thursday in disputed Kashmir, just north of where some of the war games will take place.

Officials said that Indian forces deployed along the border would hold Operation Parakram (Might) and Operation Sangharsh (Struggle) for a month in Rajasthan and Punjab.

"These people are not going to just sit there and eat and drink," a defense official said. "Obviously, they will have to be active through exercises."

A defense expert said the exercises would likely be held against a "nuclear backdrop" designed to help troops cope with such an attack. The army last year held exercises to prepare soldiers for a biological, chemical or nuclear attack.

Amid fears the standoff could trigger a fourth war between the rivals, India and Pakistan both played down hopes an upcoming speech by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to announce moves against anti-Indian militants would ease the crisis.

"I think our past experience of Pakistan gives us cause to be pessimistic about what to expect from Pakistan," said Indian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao. "But that said, let us see whether Pakistan is prepared to go beyond what it has said so far not only in terms of words but in terms of concrete actions to address the issues that are of central concern to us.

"If Pakistan is prepared to openly denounce cross-border terrorism and say it will not promote it from now on, that would be a step in the correct direction," she said.

Musharraf gambled against a dangerous backlash at home to crack down on Islamic militants there after a bloody Dec. 13 attack on India's parliament, which New Delhi blamed on two Pakistan-based Islamic groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir.

Under pressure from the United States and Britain, Musharraf moved against the militants and said he would address the nation within days to announce what he called "final decisions."

India has welcomed the initial crackdown but demanded more, including the handing over of 20 people sheltering in Pakistan and the closing down of the Kashmiri separatist groups.

Pakistani officials say major concessions are unlikely. They say it is hard for Musharraf, who must weigh both political and personal risk, to act further without appearing to bow to India.