Pakistan army accuses India of backing terrorism in rare rebuke

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's military has accused India's main intelligence agency of whipping up terrorism in Pakistan in rare public criticism that could increase tension between the nuclear-armed rivals.

The accusation came after a meeting of the army's top commanders at the military's headquarters in the city of Rawalpindi on Tuesday to review an offensive against militants in the northwest and other security issues. "The conference also took serious notice of RAW's involvement in whipping up terrorism in Pakistan," the army said in a statement, referring to India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), its external intelligence arm.

While Pakistani army officers often privately accuse India of meddling, it is rare for the military to accuse India's spy agency in an official statement.

The neighbours have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over the divided Muslim-majority region of Kashmir which they both claim in full but rule in part.

Pakistan believes India is supporting separatists in resource-rich Baluchistan province, as well as militants fighting the state. It also sees India as fuelling strife in the volatile city of Karachi.

India denies interference in Pakistan but accuses Pakistan of supporting militants who launch attacks in India and fight in Indian Kashmir. India has also accused Pakistan of backing the Taleban in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies those accusations.

A Pakistani official with knowledge of the commanders'meeting said they had discussed what they believed to be India's involvement in the Baluchistan insurgency.

"It was unanimously felt that India is providing all kinds of support to Pakistan's enemies, be they the (Pakistani) Taleban, or elements in Karachi or in Baluchistan," said the official who declined to be identified. "There is documentary proof. All evidence is there and we will bring it in the open soon."

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said in a television interview aired later that RAW was "an enemy organisation".

"RAW has been formed to undo Pakistan and to wipe Pakistan off the map of the world," Mr Asif said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made improving ties with India a priority when he won a 2013 election.

But his push was widely seen as causing friction with the army which sees relations with India as its responsibility.

Late last month, Mr Sharif accused India of failing to respond to Pakistan's desire for good relations.

India was angered earlier in April when a Pakistani court freed on bail Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, accused of plotting a 2008 assault on the city of Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.

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