Vol. 5 Num 969 Tue. February 20, 2007  

Train blasts won't sabotage peace
Says Musharraf

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said bomb blasts on a train in India that killed at least 67 people, most of them Pakistanis, would not be allowed to sabotage a peace process with India.

Musharraf said the leaders of India and Pakistan had to "move forward undeterred" in their efforts to resolve disputes and establish lasting peace.

Pakistan's foreign minister said earlier he was going ahead with a trip to India as planned on Tuesday despite the blasts on the Pakistan-bound train.

"We will not allow elements which want to sabotage the ongoing peace process to succeed in their nefarious designs," Musharraf said in a statement.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947 and nearly went to war a fourth time in 2002.

Relations have improved since they launched a peace process at the beginning of 2004, although they have yet to make any significant progress in their central dispute over the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India has blamed previous bomb attacks on Islamist militants linked to Pakistan, casting a pall over peace efforts.

Officials in India also said the attack on the train at around midnight on Sunday appeared to be an attempt to undermine the peace process.

Musharraf said the "heinous crime" would have the opposite effect.

"Such wanton acts of terrorism will only serve to further strengthen our resolve to attain the mutually desired objective of sustainable peace between the two countries," he said.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri said his trip to India on Tuesday was still on.

"I will be leaving tomorrow for Delhi to further the peace process," Kasuri told reporters in the Pakistani capital.

"In fact, if at all, we should hasten the peace process."

The train service links New Delhi with the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, although passengers have to get down at the border and cross on foot before boarding another train for their destination.

Pakistani Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said there were 757 passengers on board the train, 553 of them Pakistanis.

He said Pakistan, for its part, would continue the train service as scheduled on Monday, although security would be stepped up on the Pakistani leg of the journey.

The Indian High Commission in Islamabad said arrangements had been made to process visas immediately for relatives of people on the train wishing to go to India. A temporary visa office was also being set up in Lahore.