''Musharraf can''t disown terrorism in J&K''
12 December 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Washington DC: Describing President Pervez Musharraf as ''tactically brilliant but strategically stupid'', a senior Indian official has said the Pakistani leader cannot disown responsibility for the continued crossborder infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir. Musharraf is ''obviously not directing every terrorist operation against our territory, but he has not stopped lower level army and intelligence officers from facilitating these attacks. In that sense, I think the General is completely responsible for the situation,'' the official identified as one ''close to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee'', told editors and reporters here yesterday. Although the paper did not name the official but National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra is currently on a visit to Washington. The official said India’s relations with Pakistan remain very tense despite the Bush administration’s efforts because Musharraf has failed to follow through on the promises he made to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in June to halt crossborder infiltration permanently. Asked about his assessment of Musharraf, he said ''General Musharraf is tactically brilliant but strategically stupid.'' The official pointed out that Musharraf’s failure to contain Islamic radical movements at home led to strong gains for fundamentalist parties in Pakistan’s parliamentary and provincial elections in October. The official said that US-India relations are marked by ''a much better understanding today than ever before''. Applauding President George W Bush’s decision to work through the UN in the effort to disarm Iraq, he said ''India stands ready to support any un-authorised resolution, including force, if Iraq balks.'' ''If Saddam Hussein complies,'' said the official, ''India would favour a clear declaration that un economic sanctions against Iraq would be lifted.'' He also said the democratic system has helped check the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in India despite the country being home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations. Terrorist groups such as Al- Qaeda, he said, ''can thrive only when democracy is absent, when the mosque becomes the only place where you can express yourself.'' The senior official said ''you have terrorism, fundamentalism and religious extremism everywhere, but they can only really flourish in countries without democracy.'' Asked about the Gujarat violence, the senior official said it was ''a blot on the nation that must never be allowed to happen again,'' but noted that the clashes had been condemned by the Central Government and had not spread to other parts of the country.