October 2001 News

India’s patience running out: PM

2 October 2001
The Hindustan Times
S. Rajagopalan

Washington DC: India on Tuesday took the extraordinary step of warning Pakistan through the United States, a move that prompted President George W. Bush to hastily reassure New Delhi that Washington''s war on terrorism will be truly global. ''Pakistan must understand that there is a limit to the patience of the people of India,'' Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said in a letter to Bush within hours of Monday''s terrorist outrage in Srinagar, which killed 38 people. The letter, handed over by External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, also contained a subtle message for the US. Vajpayee told Bush that just as he was discharging his responsibility of safeguarding US interests, he himself had to act in defence of India''s national interest. The US took Vajpayee''s missive seriously: Bush held an unscheduled 40-minute meeting with Singh. The meeting took place when Singh was in the midst of consultations with Bush''s National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Singh declined to go into details of the ''very candid, very productive'' meeting, except to say that Bush was very clear that the US''s war on terrorism ''will not be unidirectional''. The inference was that the focus would go beyond Osama bin Laden''s Al- Qaeda and include other groups, including ones operating in J&K. Asked about the US''s single-minded pursuit of Bin Laden, to the seeming exclusion of terrorism elsewhere in the world, Singh said it would be wrong to conclude that Washington was limiting the battle to Osama. ''President Bush has said it will not be unidimensional.'' The minister indicated that he had no reason to doubt the US''s stated resolve to fight terrorism in all its manifestations on a global plane ''after they have addressed their principal objective'' of dealing with Bin Laden. The Prime Minister’s letter, which spoke of the national anger against the latest terrorist outrage, pointed out that the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad had claimed responsibility. That apart, ''a Pakistani national based in Pakistan'' was one of the suicide bombers in the Srinagar operation. Vajpayee also highlighted the ''irony'' that the Srinagar attack had come just a day after President Musharraf claimed in a television interview that there was not a single terrorist group operating from Pakistan''s territory. The State Department, in its reaction, strongly condemned the attack and extended its ''condolences to India, a country that has suffered many terrorist attacks over the years''. India, spokesman Richard Boucher said, was a key partner in the US''s coalition against terrorism. ''We do believe that terrorism must be ended everywhere,'' he said. Indicating that there was no change in the US''s Kashmir policy, Boucher said: ''We have continued to maintain a policy on Kashmir that looks to everybody with influence to reduce the violence and to try to see that the situation there is resolved peacefully.'' The External Affairs Minister said India was not too concerned about Pakistan’s emergence as a key US ally. ''Pakistan''s policies may be India- centric, but ours is not Pak-centric. The US is very well aware of what Pakistan is doing.”


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