July 2002 News

U.K. will not tolerate raising funds for militancy

3 July 2002
The Hindu

NEW DELHI: While counselling India to exercise restraint, Britain has asked Pakistan to effect significant reduction in cross-border infiltration into Jammu & Kashmir. ''It is important that Pakistan maintains its efforts to control cross-border terrorism... this remains a matter of great concern to the United Kingdom and (this) is something we strongly emphasised to the Government of Pakistan,'' the visiting British Defence Secretary, Geoffrey Hoon, told newsmen after an hour- long meeting with the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, shortly after arriving from Pakistan where he held talks with the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf. Asked to respond to reports that infiltration had picked up after a lull, he said ''this is precisely why I emphasised the importance the U.K. Government attaches to this issue. We want to see a significant reduction in infiltration across the Line of Control.'' On reports about terrorist sympathisers collecting funds in Britain to sustain militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Hoon said, ''this is not something we will tolerate. We have changed our laws specifically to give the police and authorities the power to deal with any organisation that is raising funds for the use of terrorists abroad''. Besides acquainting India with the contents of his discussions with the Pakistani leadership, Mr. Hoon and Mr. Fernandes reviewed the prospects of peace in Afghanistan. They also discussed strengthening of bilateral relations which ''must evolve into a deeper partnership, particularly cooperation between the two militaries''. ''We had very full discussions on these matters,'' Mr. Hoon said. Deeper military-to-military ties, including intelligence-sharing on the activities of various terrorist groups operating in the region, were touched upon in greater detail during delegation-level talks later in the day. Accompanied by his Defence Adviser, S.M.A. Lee, and the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Joe French, Mr. Hoon held discussions with an Indian team, comprising the Vice-Chief of Air Staff, S.G. Inamdar, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff, A. Tiwari, and other Defence Ministry officials. It is understood that the $1 billion deal for the purchase of British Advanced Jet Trainers also figured in the talks. The British Defence Secretary is slated to meet the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Brajesh Mishra, and the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha. He might also call upon the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee.


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