India on Thursday slammed Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for making an "anti-India tirade" during a televised national address to explain his support for the US war against terrorism.
"Instead of focussing on terrorism, which is responsible for the present situation, it is most regrettable that the president of Pakistan continues to give voice to an anti-India tirade," foreign ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao said in a statement.
"The issue is terrorism not India-Pakistan relations," she said.
In his televised address Wednesday evening, Musharraf told the people of Pakistan that he had decided to support the United States in order to best safeguard the country's national interests.
He also warned that Pakistan had to be cautious of India's "designs" and attempts by its leaders to exploit the situation.
"They want America to be with them and Pakistan to be declared a terrorist state. They want to damage our strategic interests and the Kashmir cause," Musharraf said.
"In my view, what they want is to establish an anti-Pakistan government in Afghanistan. Regrettably, when the whole world is talking about recent events of terrorism, our neighboring country wants to damage Islam and Pakistan.
"I want to tell them to lay off."
India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Musharraf's references to India were widely seen in Pakistan as an attempt to appease the militant Muslim constituency, which regards India as an arch-enemy and opposes Islamabad teaming up with Washington against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is one of the three countries which recognizes the Taliban regime, suspected of harboring Saudi dissident millionaire Osama Binladen, the prime suspect of Tuesday's terror strikes on New York and Washington.
US President George W. Bush praised Musharraf for his speech, saying he had taken a "bold position" in offering to aid the United States retaliate for last week's terror strikes.
He also expressed the hope that this could lead to a new chapter in India-Pakistan relations -- NEW DELHI (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )