August 2002 News

Cross-border terrorism from Pak has not ended: Sinha

12 August 2002
The Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: Observing that cross-border terrorism from Pakistan has not ended, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha today said there was evidence of stepped up violence by Pakistan-backed terrorist groups in Jammu and Kashmir in the run-up to the Assembly elections. ''Quite clearly, cross-border terrorism from Pakistan has not ended,'' Sinha told reporters at the Delhi airport shortly after his arrival here from a three-day visit to Afghanistan. Asked about India’s concerns on infiltration, he said ''there is no change in this. We had our apprehensions that in the run-up to the elections, terrorist groups will step up violence there. We have seen evidence of that''. Sinha, who held talks with Afghan interim head Hamid Karzai and other leaders in Kabul and visited Herat, Mazar-e-Shariff and Kandahar, said Al Qaeda elements were waiting for opportunities in ''certain areas'' to regroup. ''Everyone in Afghanistan is aware of this and determined not to allow this to happen,'' he said noting that though these elements had dispersed, they were waiting in areas where they had a stronger base and were calling the shots. ''They are not in evidence in Kabul or near it but certainly in the peripheral areas, there is this danger,'' he said. On reports that Al Qaeda terrorists were moving into J and K, he said it was pointed out that some of the people who were captured after the Taliban was defeated had confessed to operating even in J and K from across the Line of Control. Sinha, who travelled to Kabul by one of the three Air India airbus-300 gifted by India to Afghan Airlines Ariana, said he had also met former king Zahir Shah, Vice President and Defence Minister Fahim, Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah besides Education and Agriculture Ministers. The minister said he had taken along with him three tonnes of vegetable seeds and the first consignment of educational kits for every child at the Habibia School, the largest in Afghanistan. India has decided to earmark four million US dollars for renovation of buildings, upgradation of equipment and supply of medicines to the Indira Gandhi hospital in Kabul where a team of Indian doctors are already working. He said Indian doctors would be sent to Afghanistan on deputation and Afghan doctors given training here. The first batch of Afghan trainee doctors is expected to be here later this month for training at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). An amount of one million US dollars will be earmarked for upgradation of laboratories and establishment of Information Technology centres at the Habibia School, he said. The Indian Government has taken the responsibility for complete reconstruction and rehabilitation of this school whose premises were extensively devastated during the decade- long conflict. Sinha said his visits to Kabul and other areas reflected India’s continuing contact and cooperation with all sections of Afghan society and regions and ''our suppport for a strong, united, independent and sovereign'' Afghanistan. New areas for cooperation have been identified during the visit, he said adding these related to water supply projects, rehabilitation of dams, adult education programmes, upgradation of expertise and equipment at hospitals and establishing laboratories for universities. Sinha, who was on his first official visit to the war-ravaged country after assuming office in July, said he was received with ''exceptional warmth'' by the Afghan leaders. There was appreciation for India’s past and continuing cooperation and also for its quick implementation of cooperation programmes since November, 2001. In his public encounters there the tremendous warmth of the Afghan people for India was ''clearly palpable''. He said ''I have returned from Afghanistan convinced that it is in the interest of India and Afghanistan to further consolidate our all round cooperation''. The minister said he intended to further activate this process. On the question of integration of Afghan warlords in the new administration, he said ''I came back with the very clear impression that the entire Afghan leadership, both in Kabul and the provinces, wants to work together to consolidate the gains which they had achieved. ''They are fully aware of the fact that any disunity among them will unnecessarily give an opportunity to those elements whom they had vanquished.''


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