PM says Al-Qaeda''s remarks on J&K a serious challenge
15 October 2001
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Monday termed as a “serious challenge” Osama bin Laden''s al-Qaeda terrorist network dragging Kashmir into its current conflict with the US and said India has to fight the threat together. ''If this (al Qaeda''s appeal to the US not to help Hindus against Muslims in Kashmir) is true, then it is a serious challenge. We will have to combat it together'', Vajpayee told reporters after a swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan. Asked whether the government would step up security operations in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the issue is under constant consideration of the government and a decision would be taken whenever needed. He disagreed with a questioner that Pakistan was being benefited by the situation arising out of the US attacks on Afghanistan. ''In fact, Pakistan is in trouble. India''s diplomacy is going in the right direction,” he said. To a query on the possibility of internal disturbances following the US action, he said the government was maintaining a strict vigil and did not foresee a threat to internal security. The Prime Minister rejected the US description of Kashmir ''as the most dangerous place in the world'' saying ''we do not agree with this'' conjecture of US Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage. On Tuesday’s visit of US Secretary of State Colin Powell to India, he hoped that both sides would have wide ranging exchanges on the current situation.