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India-Pakistan tensions rise over execution
Friday - 3/15/2013, 12:54pm EDT
By ASHOK SHARMA
NEW DELHI (AP) - India's hanging of a Kashmiri man convicted in a terror attack is threatening to damage recently improved relations with longtime rival Pakistan.
New Delhi reacted angrily to a resolution adopted Thursday by Pakistan's National Assembly condemning the execution last month of Mohammed Afzal Guru, who was convicted in a deadly 2001 attack on India's Parliament, accusing its neighbor of interfering in its internal affairs.
India's Parliament passed a resolution of its own Friday, insisting the Pakistani assembly "desist from acts of support for extremist and terrorist elements."
A proposed home-and-away field hockey series between the nations' teams also was called off Friday on the advice of India's foreign ministry. Pakistan's squad was scheduled to visit India for five games from April 5-15, and the teams were to play five matches in Pakistan from April 23-May 2.
"I hope they (Pakistan) will get the message," said Salman Khurshid, India's foreign minister.
Tensions also rose this week when India accused Pakistan of involvement in an attack Wednesday in the Indian portion of Kashmir that killed five paramilitary soldiers. Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the militants were carrying a diary with Pakistani phone numbers and a tube of skin ointment manufactured in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Pakistan denied the attackers came from its territory.
Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in its entirety by both, has long been a flash point between the nations, sparking two wars between the rivals.
Guru was secretly hanged and buried in New Delhi's high-security prison last month. His execution triggered violence in the Indian portion of Kashmir, with his family asking the Indian government to hand over his body for burial in his hometown.
On Thursday, Pakistan's lower house of Parliament lent support through a unanimously adopted resolution urging India to hand over Guru's body to his family. "This house expresses deep concern over the situation arising in the Occupied (Indian portion of) Kashmir after the hanging of Afzal Guru," the resolution said.
The resolution also called for a withdrawal of Indian troops, an end to killings and a repeal of black laws in Kashmir. It said Kashmiris were struggling to get the right of self-determination.
"Pakistan fully supports this justified right of Kashmiris," it said.
The resolution triggered a strong reaction in India, with both houses of Parliament passing a resolution insisting Pakistan not meddle in India's internal affairs and reminding Islamabad of its 2004 commitment not to allow its territory to be used for terrorism against India.
"Any attempt from any quarter to interfere in the internal affairs of India will be met resolutely and with complete unity of our nation," the Indian resolution said.
The rivals tried to repair their ties in recent years by pushing trade, economic and sporting links and making travel to the two countries easier for their people.
However, the killing of two Indian and three Pakistani soldiers in January in clashes across the cease-fire line dividing Kashmir between them again ratcheted up tensions.
Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)