Since the partition of British India in 1947 and creation of modern republics of India and Pakistan, the two South Asian countries have been involved in four wars, including one undeclared war, as well as many border skirmishes and military stand-offs.
The dispute over Kashmir has been the cause, whether direct or indirect, of all major conflicts between the two countries
While politicians in India and Pakistan step up their efforts to prevent the crisis developing into a full-blown conflict, one war has already been declared: and it is raging in the media.
After the Indian press reported in lurid detail the militants' alleged connections with Pakistan, television anchors and opinion page writers in Islamabad have hit back. They have charged the Indian media with uncritically accepting incendiary information that is being fed by anonymous intelligence and police sources, pushing the two countries towards military confrontation.
"On the first day ... the Indian media started making allegations against Pakistan. The next day, the Pakistani media started responding back. Now I think a full-fledged media war between India and Pakistan has started," said Hamid Mir, one of Pakistan's most popular anchors.
"The armies of the two countries may not be fighting but the media of India and Pakistan are involved in a big, big, fight with each other. I think the peace process between the two countries is the main casualty of this media war."
Political talk shows in Pakistan, such as Geo News - the programme hosted by Mir - have devoted whole programmes to analysing the Indian media's reports.
"Indian media is not used to reporting on [Indian] state failures. They ended up filling the airtime with lies and inaccuracies," another leading Pakistani anchor, Talat Hussain, said on television over the weekend.
"Just because you have exhausted your coverage does not mean you have the licence to push the two countries to the brink of war. These are nuclear-armed countries."
An editorial from Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper, on Saturday warned: "Segments of the Indian media have indulged in a round of Pakistan-bashing, mixing facts with theories to present 'evidence' of Pakistani malice and perfidy." Meanwhile, a column over the weekend in The Times of India, by Gautam Adhikari, declared: "Call a spade what it is. It's Pakistan. Much of global terrorism today, not just what hits India, emanates or is planned from Pakistan."
It is not only the editorial comment and opinion in the Indian media that has incensed Pakistani journalists but also the reporting of claims made by anonymous officials.
The Hindustan Times yesterday reported that "the terrorists whose bodies were found were all from Pakistan". The Hindu newspaper said that the emailed claim of responsibility for the attacks came from a computer in Pakistan. The Indian Express reported that the intercepted mobile phone calls of two of the terrorists recorded at least 11 conversations between them and their apparent mastermind, a man called Amir who was in the Pakistani city of Karachi.
In the previous few days, the Indian media had reported that the lone gunman who was caught alive had confessed to belonging to Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Many revelations have come from unnamed intelligence or police sources.
Such is the Indian onslaught that Pakistan's president, Asif Zardari, appeared by phone on an Indian political show over the weekend, on CNN-IBN news channel, where he pledged the "strictest of action" against any terrorist links in Pakistan. Indian journalists said that the accusations were coming from Indian officials and they were merely reporting them.
"The Indian press is fairly convinced, perhaps wrongly so, of the Pakistani involvement," said the host of the CNN-IBN programme, Karan Thapar.
"And in being convinced of that, they are not differentiating between the official government of the country [Pakistan] and rogue elements or rogue institutions. The Indian press response is an emotional response, fed by unofficial sources that are leaking information."
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