Ever since, the international community has watched in dread. A border conflict in 1999 threatened to spill into an all-out war, but wide-scale conflict was averted. Two years later, on Dec. 13, 2001, an audacious terrorist attack on the Indian parliament killed 14 people and moved the two countries once again to the brink of war.
India blames two militant Islamic groups, which it says enjoy Pakistan's support, for the attack. Pakistan denies the charge and, following the warming ties between Islamabad and Washington in the post-Sept. 11 war on terrorism, it announced a crackdown on the two militant Islamic groups.
But India denounced Pakistan's measures as "cosmetic" and both sides launched a dramatic military buildup on either side of the Line of Control.
In May 2002, militants attacked an Indian army camp in Kashmir, leaving more than 30 people dead, including the wives and children of Indian soldiers. It was followed by the killing of moderate Kashmiri leader Abdul Gani Lone, who headed the the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, a group that has called for the separation of Kashmir from both India and Pakistan, on May 21. India blamed Pakistan-backed hard-line militants for the killing, which occured at a public meeting in Srinagar. Pakistan denied the charges.
But tensions have continued to mount as Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee called upon the military to prepare for a "decisive fight" and Pakistan test-fired three medium-range surface-to-surface missiles.