US Body Accuses Pakistan With Providing Safe Haven To Terrorists
25 August 2000
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak
New Delhi: The United States has charged Pakistan with providing ''a safe haven, transit, and moral, political and diplomatic support'' to several groups engaged in terrorism, the Minister for External Affairs, Mr Jaswant Singh, has said. Mr Jaswant Singh stated in the Rajya Sabha that the US National Commission on Terrorism has said in its report that US President should impose sanctions on countries that are not cooperating fully on counter-terrorism. The US body, Mr Jaswant Singh said in reply to a question by Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, had suggested that Pakistan should be placed in this category. The US body''s report, Mr Jaswant Singh, pointed out, had noted that Pakistan provided support to several groups engaged in terrorism, including Harkar-ul-Mujahideen which had been designated by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO). According to Mr Jaswant Singh, the report is an indication of the growing international recognition of Pakistan''s links with terrorism. Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad enquired if the Government of India was going to pay more attnetion to the question of monitoring and analysing developments and trends in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). In his reply, Mr Ajit Kumar Panja, Minister of State for External Affairs, while declaring that the State of Jammu and Kashmir ''is an integral part of the Indian Union'', stated that a part of the territory of J&K was under forcible and illegal occupation of Pakistan and that the Government of India was aware of reports that disturbances had taken place in many areas in PoK, including the northern areas. Mr Panja said that the Government closely monitored all developments that have an impact on India''s security. He added that the Government also remained firm in its resolve to take all necessary measures to effectively safeguard India''s security and territorial integrity. Mr Ajit Panja informed Mr Sanjay Nirupam that there is ''no proposal'' under consideration of the Government for Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to meet Pakistan''s military ruler, Gen Parvez Musharraf, during his visit to the United States next month. Pakistan, Mr Panja said, must abandon its state sponsorship of cross-border terrorism and hostile propaganda against India so that an environment appropriate for dialogue is created. He asserted: ''These steps are essential ingredients for any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan''. In his reply to a question by Mr Santosh Bagrodia, Mr Ajit Panja stated that Pakistan had suggested that India and Pakistan adhere to a strategic restraint regime for avoidance of an arms race, nuclear and conventional, and confidence building in the region on a reciprocal basis. The proposal, Mr Panja pointed out, has been put forward with ''propagandist intent''. India took the lead in initiating discussions at the bilateral level on formalisation of restraint in the region during Mr Vajpayee''s'' historic visit to Lahore in February 1999. Mr Panja regretted: ''Unfortunately, Pakistan''s armed intrusion in Kargil and its repudiation of mutually agreed upon confidence-building measures and agreements have set this process back''. And Mr Panja''s suggestion: ''Pakistan needs to take necessary steps to restore trust to enable this process to resume''. Reiterating that the Government of India is concerned about the misuse of Nepalese territory and the open India-Nepal border for activities inimical to India''s interest, Mr Ajit Panja informed the House that reports received by the Government indicate evidence of Indian extremist elements from Kashmir and Punjab, with the help of Pakistani ISI, using Nepal as a staging post for terrorist activities directed against India. The Nepalese Government had been sensitised on this issue, he said in reply to a question by Mr Drupad Borgohain. According to Mr Panja, New Delhi and Kathmandu have agreed to jointly coordinate measures, including stepping up vigil along the contiguous border districts of Nepal and India, to prevent misuse of the open India-Nepal border for activities directed against India. Mr Panja also informed the House that the Government of Nepal has assured that Nepalese territory would not be used for activities inimical to India''s interest. In his pointed reference to the presence of Indian militants in Bhutanese territory, Mr Panja said that India and Bhutan remained in constant touch to find a solution to this issue. The Government of Bhutan, he added, had reiterated that it would not allow Bhutanese territory to be misused against the interests of India. Similarly, New Delhi has been in touch with Dhaka on various security related measures including cross-border terrorism and activities of Indian insurgents in Bangladesh.