July 2002 News

Musharraf reiterated promise on infiltration: Powell

31 July 2002
The Hindu

NEW DELHI: The United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, whose recent remarks in New Delhi raised a controversy, has not been soft on Pakistan either on the issue of cross-border terrorism. The text of his comments, made while flying from Islamabad to Bangkok on July 28, shows that the U.S. continues to mount pressure on Pakistan to deal with the issue of infiltration and cross-border terrorism. In his opening remarks, Gen. Powell said: ''I was able to make sure that the commitment from the Pakistani side remained solid with President Musharraf to end cross-border infiltration. Not only did he give the assurance publicly... he was even more positive with respect to his commitment to ending all infiltration. ''In fact, it became, I wouldn''t say agitated, but it became a forceful discussion back and forth as I pointed out that we can''t verify that yet and the Indians certainly don''t accept it yet, and we have to do everything we can to make sure that what he is saying is the case in order for that argument to have credibility.'' Clearly, Gen. Powell raised doubts over the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf''s claim that cross- border infiltration had come to a halt. ''The Pakistanis are saying one thing, the Indians are saying another, and I''m not able independently through my own sources to substantiate everything the Pakistanis are saying to us. The chief of the ISI was also in the meetings and he too reaffirmed that cross-border infiltration will stop,'' he said. On whether India had provided him conclusive evidence about Pakistani incursions across the Line of Control, Gen. Powell said: ''They didn''t turn over anything, but they said their information, their intelligence, is such that even though it (infiltration) has dropped, it has gone down, some say significantly, others in their Government would say not that significantly, but it has gone down. But they still see evidence that it is continuing and that it is supported by the Pakistani side, that is the problem.'' The U.S. official''s remarks would hint at differences among his Indian interlocutors on the level of decline in infiltration across the LoC. But, he did confirm that there was a single message from New Delhi that infiltration was still continuing. About Pakistan and the issue of winding down terrorist camps there, Gen. Powell stated that there had ''been some action'' with respect to the camps. ''I think it is preliminary, you can''t tell whether some camps are just being moved from one place to another... Well, he (Gen. Musharraf) has made promises, we are now starting to see a reduction of cross-border infiltration, he keeps reaffirming it. We keep reminding him that this is a promise that he has made, not only to the international community, but especially to the United States administration, to the President, and to me, and we drive the point home. As you heard him say, nothing''s going on. As I said to him in his meetings, I heard you, I am pleased at the reassurance, but I cannot confirm what you are saying. So we have to keep pushing him.''.


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