May 2002 News

Infiltration still on: Powell

31 May 2002
The Hindu

Washington : The Bush administration has criticised Pakistan for the continuance of cross-border terrorism and debunked its President, Pervez Musharraf''s repeated assertions that ''nothing'' is happening along the Line of Control (LoC). ''There is an urgency to it... The situation has not improved in the last month or so. We were receiving assurances from President Musharraf that infiltration across the LoC would be ended. But unfortunately we can still see evidence that it is continuing,'' the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said in an interview to the Public Broadcasting network. He has now given assurances again and these assurances are more positive and we hope he is giving the necessary orders and taking all the necessary action to stop the infiltration.'' ''The situation was tense,'' Gen. Powell said, adding that the U.S. was trying to make sure that India and Pakistan never reached the point of war. ''We are pressing President Musharraf very hard to cease all infiltration activities on the part of terrorist organisations across the LoC and we are asking the Indians to show restraint until we can determine whether or not infiltration activity has ceased.'' He said that if indeed infiltration had ceased, it would be a basis for India to reciprocate by starting to get down the de-escalation and de-mobilisation ladder. ''So right now it is a tense situation; we''re worried about it.'' Gen. Powell did not respond when asked if a conflict between India and Pakistan would eventually lead to the use of nuclear weapons but pointed out the implications and consequences, including worldwide condemnation, on the nation that chose the nuclear route. The Secretary of State said that Kashmir was a ''very sensitive issue'' between India and Pakistan and that while there might have been a number of ideas and plans over the years, right now there was ''nothing active'' before the two countries for the resolution of the problem. ''It is a very sensitive issue between the two sides. There are political consequences, there are religious issues involved in it. It has been an intractable problem for 50 years. It has to do with the various populations that co-exist within Kashmir. And they have never been able to find a political way to solve this difficult problem that really has been there since the formation of these two countries.'' He stressed that ''any outside plan'' will not work in solving the Kashmir problem; neither was there a role at this point for a mediator to come in from outside. Reuters reports: In an interview to BBC World Service radio, Gen. Powell said that he needed absolute proof that Pakistan was effecting a clampdown on militants. ''Instructions have been given to cease this kind of activity, but it is too early to say that it has stopped. If it does stop, it must also stop permanently.'' ''I think that what we are expecting President Musharraf to do is to use all the authority he has to stop it and to keep it stopped so that we can get this crisis behind us.''.


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