January 2000 News

Ackerman for US review of rebel Kashmiri outfits

6 January 2000
The Asian Age
Ashish Kumar Sen

SAN FRANCISCO: Congressman Gary Ackerman has asked the US state department to conduct a "speedy, timebound review" of the various violent Kashmiri outfits operating out of Pakistan and Afghanistan, while endorsing a proposal of setting up a joint working group by the US and India to counter terrorism.

Mr. Ackerman, co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, urged that the role of Pakistan's military junta and the Taliban regime in the supporting these outfits be simultaneously reviewed.

"Upon this review, I call upon the administration to designate these outfits and states as supporters of terrorism and be blacklisted. "It's time the US sent a clear message that this administration will not tolerate terrorism of any variety or hue in any part of the world." Mr. Ackerman said.

He urged the Clinton administration to provide India all possible assistance, including relevant, time-sensitive intelligence data, to bring about swift punishment to the killers of Rupin Katyal.

Supporting a proposal to set up a joint working group to counter terrorism, Mr. Ackerman said: "I welcome the idea of a joint working group by the US and India to counter terrorism. I commend ambassador (Michael) Sheehan (coordinator for counter terrorism) for pursuing this matter. I urge officials of both sides to speed up the establishment of this group and not get bogged down in bureaucratic red tape and formalities. This is an urgent imperative and my colleagues and I in the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans will support this endeavor whole-heartedly."

Mr. Ackerman, a leading member of the House international affairs committee, said: "Policymakers throughout the world must realise that the hijacking of flight IC 814 is very much part of a proxy war that India has been confronting in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab for over a decade."

News reports had shown most of the hijackers had been identified as Pakistanis and that they were engaged in air piracy to force the release of the Maulana Azhar Masood, who is a Pakistani citizen and a member of the Harkat-ul Ansar, an international terrorist organistaion operating from Pakistan.

Saying that this "clearly points the finger to certain elements in Islamabad that continue to play a critical role in sponsoring and sustaining terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir," Mr. Ackerman added: "Any military or terrorist action to change the status quo in Jammu and Kashmiri is unacceptable to the international community. In fact, the `core' issue is not Kashmir. Instead, the core issue is the hegemonistic hopes of certain sections of the Pakistani national security apparatus that by either covert or overt action, or a combination thereof, India can be successfully dismembered.

"It is the central aspiration that fuels all violence in Jammu and Kashmir. The latest incident of hijacking is nothing but yet another manifestation of this miscalculation."

"The Kashmir issue can never be resolved by military means. It can only be resolved by mutual dialogue between India and Pakistan within the framework of the Shimla Accord of 1972," Mr. Ackerman asserted. "The issue has to be resolved bilaterally, by the parties themselves.

Meanwhile at the White House, press secretary Joe Lockhart, asked to comment on how the US had abandoned India to fight terrorism alone during the Indian Airlines hostage crisis, said: "I think we were in close touch with the Indian government throughout the incident. We're also continuing to work with India on a series of efforts to strengthen our cooperation on fighting terrorism."

He said the US supported a full investigation aimed at apprehending and prosecuting the hijackers. Mr. Lockhart said the United States would not rest until those who perpetrate these kinds of activities are brought to justice, whether it is an act of terror directed against Americans or whether it is directed against others.


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