India has been flexing its military muscles with a Republic Day parade that followed a series of frontier clashes with Pakistan. Islamabad was told it should take good relations with its larger neighbor seriously.
India put its latest military hardware on show on Saturday after a warning was issued to its neighbor Pakistan that good bilateral relationship should not be taken for granted.
Tight security surrounded the event in New Delhi, which featured a showcase of India's most up-to-date long range ballistic missile. Republic Day commemorates the date on which India’s constitution came into effect, January 26, 1950.
A no-fly zone was declared above the city for the duration of the parade, with tens of thousands of security forces deployed. Chief guest was Butanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
At the parade, India placed on view its Agni V rocket, a long-range ballistic missile that is capable of delivering a one metric ton nuclear warhead anywhere in Pakistan and China, its two key regional rivals. The missile was test-fired in April 2012 and puts India into a select club of nations possessing inter-continental ballistic missiles.
There was also a veiled warning to Pakistan that India would not tolerate the sponsorship of violence by its neighbor.
"We believe in peace on the border and are always ready to offer a hand in the hope of friendship ... but this hand should not be taken for granted," President Pranab Mukherjee said in a televised address Friday in advance of the celebration.
Mention of Mumbai attacks
As well as referring to both recent clashes between both countries' troops on the border of India's Jammu Kasmir region with Pakistan, Mukherjee also broached the deadly 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people died. Suspicions exist among many Indians that Pakistani authorities were linked in some way with militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for orchestrating the attacks.
"Neighbors may have disagreements, tension can be a subtext of frontiers," Mukherjee said. "But sponsorship of terrorism through nonstate actors is a matter of deep concern to the entire nation."
A fragile peace process between the two countries, which saw the recent signing of an agreement to lift visa restrictions, has been placed in peril by the recent cross-border violence.
Ahead of a ceasefire last week, Pakistan said three of its troops had been shot and killed by India along the so-called "Line of Control," which represents the de facto border.
India accuses Pakistani troops of killing two of its soldiers in skirmishes, one of whom was said to have been beheaded.
rc/hc (AFP, AP, dpa)
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