US asks India not to raise J&K terror issue in talks
29 September 2001
The Asian Age
New Delhi: The United States has asked India not to raise the issue of Pakistan- sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir at this stage in discussions. US secretary of state Colin Powell has also made it clear that Israel will not be involved in any military action against Afghanistan, a statement that is being seen as an assurance to Arab nations and Pakistan. The Bush administration is working overtime to bail Pakistan out of the present economic crunch, with US ambassador Wendy S. Chamberlin informing reporters in Islamabad that “a new chapter of Pak-US relations has opened.” She said the US is evolving a full economic package for which the lifting of sanctions is just a part. She said that the US is contemplating removing democracy- related curbs as well, with the IMF and Paris Club rescheduling loans. India is particularly disturbed about the new developments, with both national security adviser Brajesh Mishra and external affairs minister Jaswant Singh rushing to Washington one after the other. New Delhi has extensive documents to prove that the organisations involved in creating terror in Jammu and Kashmir are part of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda outfit and should be treated at par with the Harkat-ul-Ansar (now Harkatul Mujahideen), included by the US on its terrorist organisations’ list after the outfit targeted British and other nationals. India has not been successful in focusing America’s or the world’s attention to the direct involvement of Pakistan in sponsoring terrorism through its close links with the Taliban and the terrorist groups that are running training camps along the Pakistan-Afghan border. The government’s contention is that the Al Rashid Trust, which is on the recent list of terrorist groups released by the Bush administration, has close links with the Lashkar- e-Tayaba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, both active in Jammu and Kashmir. Sources here maintained that Washington has shown little interest in India’s intelligence information on this extensive network. The Bush administration has deliberately decided to coopt Pakistan as a frontline state in its campaign against terrorism. India had been claiming, until it was asked by Washington to be more discreet, that Pakistan was an integral part of the terrorism it was sponsoring and could not be looked upon as a responsible nation suddenly. There is growing resentment in government circles about the US decision to discard the available evidence and join hands with Islamabad in an “absurd show of trust.” It is pointed out that Lieutenant General Haved Nasir, then chief of the ISI, had let down the US by working secretly with the Afghan mujahideen to prevent the sell back of Stinger missiles which had been supplied by Washington in the fight against Communism. Significantly, at least 60 of these missiles are supposed to be with the Taliban now, with the locations and the exact numbers a closely guarded secret. The sources here claimed that Pakistan could not be trusted to deliver even now, a suspicion which does not appear to be shared by Washington at this stage. The US is handicapped by the absence of physical targets. The Taliban operates out of mosques and madrasas and does not have the military infrastructure that can be hit from the air. British and US troops engaged in combat operations have to rely almost exclusively on Afghan and Pakistani guides, with government sources here not particularly convinced that President General Pervez Musharraf will actually render all possible assistance and help to the US.