April 2003 News

Pakistan is not Iraq, Fernandes agrees

12 April 2003
The Daily Times

CALCUTTA: Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes said on Saturday that India's dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir and the US action in Iraq could not be compared. Earlier this week, Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said that there was a stronger case for military action against Pakistan than Iraq as nuclear-armed Pakistan had weapons of mass destruction and harboured terrorist groups. Mr Fernandes also said Pakistan was harbouring terrorists. 'The level of infiltration into Kashmir is the same in recent months. Pakistan is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world,' he said. He said Washington's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) had been proved wrong, because US forces had not found any such weapons. 'It has been proven what America has been saying about WMD in Iraq was not right,' Mr Fernandes told a news conference. 'What has happened in Iraq is not acceptable,' he said. 'The United States started talking about weapons of mass destruction and finally went to regime change. It was determined to do what it has done in Iraq and the rest was brought in as supporting reasons.' Islamabad irate Pakistan on Saturday blasted as a lie a statement by Mr Fernandes that Pakistan was a prime case for pre-emptive strikes. 'It is a lie that has no legs to stand on,' a foreign office spokesman said in a statement. 'The whole world knows George Fernandes as an irresponsible leader who lost all credibility because of his wild and unfounded allegations against each one of India's neighbours,' he said. He described Mr Fernandes as a 'tehlka-fame' minister, referring to a report last year on corruption in a defence deal following which he quit but was later reinstated. The statement said Pakistan had caught 'several Indian agents, some red-handed, who masterminded many terrorist incidents in Pakistan'. 'Indian support to terrorist movements in the region is also well documented,' the statement said. The world community has lauded Pakistan's central role in the international war against terrorism, which 'continues to irk malicious leaders like George Fernandes,' it said. -Reuters-AFP


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