June 2000 News

India came closer to crossing LoC

17 June 2000
News International
Amir Mateen

Washington DC: India came close to crossing the Line of Control (LoC) in recent weeks, but later cancelled the plan for attack, claims former Rand Vice-President George Tanham. Citing ''a good American source'' in The Washington Times, he said tension along the border (LoC) remains high. ''The Indians had planned a fairly big bash,'' he said to The Washington Times, adding that the Indians had rethought it and would not do it. Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar must have been pleased to read a positive report on Pakistan (at breakfast table) published in the influential conservative newspaper. The Washington Times quoted US officials as saying that ''they are satisfied that Pakistan''s military leader Pervaiz Musharraf has begun to tackle thorny problems that had raised concern about the direction in which he is leading his nuclear-armed nation.'' However, it pointed out that it is still not clear whether the General had the support to fully confront what one analyst called ''Pakistan''s demons''. These include Islamic militancy, terrorism, corruption, a poor economy and nuclear brinksmanship with India over Kashmir. ''Clearly he is attempting to grapple with a number of these problems,'' Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth was quoted as saying by The Times. Another unnamed official at State said to The Washington Times that Pakistan ''is taking steps to contain terrorists operating out of Afghanistan and is being more active about the whole issue of militancy in Pakistan.'' In the story, entitle ''Pakistani progress pleases officials in US'', The Washington Times correspondent Ben Barber wrote that US officials were ''heartened by Gen. Musharraf''s success in facing down the nation''s merchants, who this week abandoned a two-week strike against new tax audits.'' ''General Musharraf may have arrested Pakistan''s slide toward extremism and chaos,'' said Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution to The Washington Times. At the same time, The Times also noted that General Musharraf had backed down from a plan to soften the anti-blasphemy laws ''in the face of Islamists who took to the streets two weeks ago.'' ''We''re not really sure whether he''s in charge or it is a junta in which two more hawkish and Islamist generals hold sway,'' it quoted another unnamed US official as saying. The newspapers even named ISI Chief Lt-Gen Mahmood Ahmad and CGS Lt-Gen Abdul Aziz Khan in the report. The report says that despite his internal reforms, Gen. Musharraf remains hawkish toward India. It said US diplomats had repeatedly asked Gen Musharraf to use his influence to get Afghanistan to clamp down on terrorists, especially Osama bin Laden. Pressure from Gen Musharraf is credited for the closure by Afghanistan''s Taliban rulers of a training camp for Islamic militants at Rishkore outside Kabul, said the report, adding, but the trainees reportedly had moved to other camps. The Times wrote that Gen. Musharraf also had halted the carrying of weapons in public by Islamic militants, but the US officials are not sure how widely this has been enforced. It quotes Tanham saying that Gen. Musharraf seemed poorly prepared to run the country. ''He was a special forces guy, but he had to (take charge) for the good of the country and the army,'' he said to The Times. ''He can''t turn the country around fast. We and the Pakistanis need to be patient. And we''re not. ''I think he''s done reasonably well. He can''t alienate everyone.''


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