Pakistani forces were placed on a state of high alert Wednesday after what military officials in Islamabad, the capital, claimed were movements by Indian army and air force units in Kashmir.
"We have information wherein India has moved troops and relocated some air force assets which may prove to be a threat," said government spokesman Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi.
High Level of Alert
The level of alert was the highest since the two countries skirmished in the Kargil area of Kashmir in May 1999. It followed the surprise shelling of Pakistani positions in Sialkot and Rawalakot on Monday, just as Powell arrived in the region.
The tensions between the South Asian neighbors, both of which are nuclear capable, could not have come at a worse time for the U.S.-led military efforts in Afghanistan. Although India and Pakistan have joined the anti-terrorism coalition, U.S. officials were hoping that they would put their hostilities on hold.
As the main front-line state in the military campaign in Afghanistan, Pakistan fears a flare-up on a second front, with India. The Bush administration has exerted significant pressure on the South Asian rivals to prevent new hostilities.
After talks with Powell, Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said the South Asian nations would learn how to live together as good neighbors. But he also said the two sides "cannot push the pace" of rapprochement.
"The two people have to learn, have to forget the past, have to forget the mistakes of the past 50 years, and we have to learn to live together as we address what are our real enemies of today--poverty, want--as the two countries are enabled to move together in the 21st century," he told a joint news conference.
Powell said he encouraged both nations to continue their dialogue and to take steps to reduce tension.
After Powell left, Vajpayee said that India had no plans to resume peace talks with Pakistan as long as the disputed Kashmir is the dominant issue on the agenda.
But Powell did manage to ease India's anxiety over the sudden warming of U.S.-Pakistan relations after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
"The prospects have never been brighter for our cooperation," Powell told a news conference. "I leave India confident that the United States and India stand together against the scourge of international terrorism, strengthened by our shared democratic values and ready as never before to work together for freedom, prosperity, and security in the region and the world."
Vajpayee will visit the United States on Nov. 9 for talks with President Bush, Powell announced.
Times staff writers Rone Tempest in Islamabad, Norman Kempster in Washington and John J. Goldman at the United Nations contributed to this report.