Polls a good start but not end of the road: Blackwill
10 October 2002
The Indian Express
Hyderabad: US Ambassador Robert Blackwill today saw completion of the J-K elections as a ‘‘positive start for dialogue between India and Pakistan’’, and said that the US would play a role in bringing both countries to the talks table once the Pakistan polls got over. Addressing a press conference here after wrapping up his two-day visit to the city, he said that while the US backed free and fair polls in J-K, it was also made clear that ‘‘polls alone could not solve the Kashmir problem’’ (between the two countries). ‘‘The US maintained that the violence must stop in Kashmir and condemned the efforts made by militants to disrupt the election process,’’ he reminded. He said that the US would assess the situation after completion of polls in Pakistan. Blackwill, however, refused to comment on the outcome of the J-K polls. Asked about the possible defeat of National Conference and Congress and PDP coming together to capture power, the envoy said: ‘‘We will not go into domestic political configurations.’’ Blackwill said that the US continued to treat Pakistani President Gen Musharraf as an ally of the US in its war against terror. ‘‘ Pakistan under his leadership is playing a role in curbing Al Qaeda and Taliban militants. This will benefit India too as they may enter the country,’’ he said. While asserting that the US was clearly opposed to cross-border terrorism threatening India, the US ambassador, however, said that pre-emptive strikes against terrorist camps in PoK would not be a solution to the problem.