March 2000 News

Clinton rejects Pak demand for plebiscite in Kashmir

22 March 2000
Daily Excelsior

Washington DC: Rejecting Pakistanís demand for a plebiscite in Kashmir, US President Bill Clinton today said a lot had changed since 1948 UN resolution on the subject and affirmed that he was opposed to violence in Jammu and Kashmir propagated by elements within the Pakistani Government, reports PTI. In the first statement by an American President against plebiscite in Kashmir, Clinton told a US Television network, well, there have been a lot of changes since 1948, including what happened in 1971 and a number of things since. He had been asked by Peter Jennings, the main anchor person of ABC world news during the interview in New Delhi as to whether he supported the Kashmirisí right to a referendum. Do you support the right as it was laid out by the UN in 1948, for them to have a plebiscite on their future? the interviewer asked. Clinton went on to say that what he would support some process by which the legitimate grievances of Kashmiris are addressed. And the Indians have to have some way of talking to their own Kashmiris about it that recognises there is not a military solution, he added. When Clinton voiced his strong opposition to violence propagated by third parties within Kashmir, the interviewer asked him if Pakistanís ISI facilitates the infiltration of fighters to Kashmir. I believe that there are elements within the Pakistan Government that have supported those who engaged in violence in Kashmir, the US President responded. Stating that during his stopover in Islamabad on March 25 he would be talking to General Pervez Musharraf about it, Clinton said Pakistan has to have a non-violent plan for resolving differences with India. I just donít think that this is the way to deal with Kashmir and I donít think itís a good enough reason to drive, in effect, the whole existence, the whole policy of the Pakistani Government, he said. Maintaining that he wanted to continue to be a good ally for Pakistani people, the US President, however, said I think they (military rulers) have to have a plan for restoring democracy and they have to have a non-violent plan for resolving their differences with India. Asked if it meant that the US would give advice but not get involved in settling the Kashmir issue, he said I donít think the United States can be involved in a three-way attempt to settle the Kashmir issue unless and until they both want us (to do so). Asked if he would tell Pakistan that it should respect the Line of Control (LoC), Clinton said absolutely. The President said he would try to convince both sides to avoid the worst. But if they stay sort of bunkered down in unapproachable positions, then I think weíll have to work very hard to avoid a more difficult situation, he added. Asserting that the situation in Kashmir was difficult, Clinton said what really matters in terms of an ultimate resolution is that the people of Kashmir feel that their legitimate interests are being addressed in some formal fashion. Asked about Indiaís opposition to third party mediation in Kashmir, Clinton said I think what they say is that we (the US) have no role in Kashmir. And they have every right to say that... But I think the United States does have an interest in trying to avert a larger conflict and trying to reduce the tensions between the two countries. I think we do have a clear interest there. ....Right now the important thing is respecting the line of control, reducing violence and find a way to resume the dialogue. Now, beyond that it is up to them, he said. He said the best chance that the Pakistanis could have of having a positive impact on legitimate concerns of people in Jammu and Kashmir is through a dialogue, not through acts of violence and supporting acts of violence. Clinton said for many years Pakistanis thought that the US might get involved but I am not going to be dragged into something... that India does not want us to be part of. He said the us had Honest disagreement with India on the nuclear issue but trusted New Delhiís assertion that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons. I believe Prime Minister Vajpayee when he says, ĎI will never be the first to use nuclear weaponsí, Clinton said. In New Delhi, in a tough message to Pakistan, US President Bill Clinton today charged elements within the Pakistani Government with supporting those engaged in violence in Kashmir but said an enduring solution to the problem lay in Indo-Pakistan dialogue. Before winding up his two-day state visit to the capital, the American leader made it clear in his address to Members of both Houses of Parliament that he did not come to South Asia to mediate over Kashmir because only India and Pakistan could sort out the problem between them. But if outsiders cannot resolve this problem, I hope you will create the opportunity to do it yourselves, calling on the support of other who can help where possible, as American diplomacy did in urging the Pakistanis to go back behind the Line of Control (LoC) in the Kargil crisis, he told a packed Central Hall of Parliament. However, Clinton, who will stopover in Islamabad on Saturday, told an American TV network ABC in an interview I believe that there are elements within the Pakistani Government that have supported those who engage in violence in Kashmir. He said, I just donít think that this is the way to deal with Kashmir and I donít think it is good enough reasons to drive, in effect, the whole existence, the whole policy of the Pakistani Government. The US President said I think....They (Pakistan) have to have a non-violent plan for resolving their differences with India. Asked whether Clinton has offered US assistance in resolving the Kashmir issue in his address in Parliament, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said the US President has made it clear that he has not come to South Asia to mediate on the Kashmir issue. He asserted that Pakistan has to create the right atmosphere by stopping cross-border terrorism and hostile propaganda against India for resumption of productive and meaningful dialogue. In his speech in Parliament, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said Indiaís decision to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent was prompted by security compulsions. New Delhi believed in resolving differences with its neighbours peacefully through bilateral dialogue, he said. Clinton also did some plain-speaking on the nuclear issue and expressed the hope that both India and the US would join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), work to launch negotiations on a treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and strengthen export controls.


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