Pak seeks reward in Kashmir for aiding US
30 September 2001
The Hindustan Times
Washington DC: Pakistan is seeking a trade-off or reward in Kashmir for its assistance to the US against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, which it created and installed in power in Afghanistan with the active participation of its army media reports said here on Saturday.''Pakistan backs a Muslim separatist insurgency that has been fighting Indian troops for 12 years in Kashmir'' and ''the Hizbul- Mujahideen, the largest Kashmiri guerrilla group (is) based in Pakistan....'' The Washington Post said in a report. In the past week, ''the US distinctions between the two issues (bin Laden''s terrorist campaign and Pakistani-backed cross-border terrorism in Kashmir) have begun to blur. ''Pakistani officials and Kashmiri separatist leaders are now voicing worry that Washington is sweeping the Kashmir conflict, which they view as a ''freedom struggle,'' into a broad attack on what the West views as regional terrorism,'' the report headlined ''Pakistan Seeks Trade-off on Kashmir. Leader (Pervez Musharraf) aims to spare militants from terror label'' said. George Perkovich, a South Asian specialist at the W. Alton Jones Foundation''s Secure World Foundation, told The Washington Times: ''It has been largely ignored in the US press, but Pakistan and India have diametrically opposed definitions of how the Kashmir dispute fits in the terrorism campaign. The United States is squarely in the middle, and there is no way out of this.'' Perkovich said that President Musharraf may be tempted to increase Pakistani backing for Kashmiri militant groups in order to placate domestic critics unhappy with his decision to support the United States against bin Laden. Stratfor.Com, a web-based group specialising on security and intelligence issues, wonders how firm is Musharraf''s control over his military. ''Regardless of Islamabad''s intent, it cannot guarantee the security of US forces.'' If it decides to operate from Pakistan, given the ''disasters in Beirut and at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, it is clear that the US would have to take operational control of its own security,'' it said. That would mean, in effect, the occupation and pacification of substantial portions of Pakistan before any operation against Afghanistan. Resistance to the presence of a large American force in Pakistan could easily involve elements of Pakistan''s military and security forces as well as Taliban sympathisers. The US does not have sufficient forces available to secure Pakistan and stage an invasion of Afghanistan, even against trivial forces, the group said.