May 2003 News

Terror Camps To Go Tomorrow, But There Aren't Any: Musharraf

8 May 2003
The Indian Express

Islamabad: President Pervez Musharraf today assured the United States that any terrorist camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) 'would be gone tomorrow,' though at the same time he claimed there were no such camps. US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who held a 90- minute meeting with Musharraf, told reporters that the Pakistan President had given him 'absolute assurance that there's nothing happening across the Line of Control.' Armitage said Musharraf told him that there were no militant training camps in PoK and 'if there were camps, they would be gone tomorrow.' (Pakistani officials said Musharraf would be making an official visit to the US and dates have been tentatively scheduled for June 16-18, reports AFP). Headed for New Delhi on Friday, Armitage said Washington was not carrying any proposal for a resolution of the Kashmir issue and denied that it was exerting pressure on both India and Pakistan to resolve it. Expressing cautious optimism about the fresh peace initiatives by India and Pakistan, he said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee made far-reaching statements in Srinagar which led to a nascent beginning of a dialogue after Pakistani premier Mir Zafurullah Jamali spoke to him over phone a few days later. Armitage, who also held talks with Jamali, Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri and other senior officials, said that infiltration of militants across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir had come down compared to last year. 'Infiltration and cross-border violence and the lethality are down from this time last year,' he said, adding but that does not 'fill me with great enthusiasm as any suffering is a cause of concern for us all.' Asked whether India had done enough to bring down tensions, Armitage said 'it is not useful pointing fingers at India and Pakistan. The United States faithfully discussed the issues with both sides. I am not gong to describe whether the other side has done enough.' Responding to a question, he said 'all I know is that Vajpayee has made a far reaching statement in Srinagar. I have no doubt that he himself is a man of peace and he wants to have peace between India and Pakistan. Beyond that I cannot speculate on his motives.' On the chances of the peace process succeeding, he said 'time will tell. I am cautiously optimistic... There seems to be sudden confidence in India and Pakistan about the ability to address all aspects of their relationship. That's a very good basis to move forward,' he said. Kasuri, who was also present, said any solution to the Kashmir issue that 'does not take into consideration the aspirations of the people of Kashmir won't last.' He said Pakistan had expressed its willingness to enter into a 'tiered dialogue, a dialogue which is hopefully meaningful, which can address all unresolved issues between the two countries.' Meanwhile, a US house representatives committee has asked the Bush administration to disclose the extent to which Pakistan has fulfilled its promise to stop cross-border terrorism, shutting down terror camps in PoK and halting proliferation of nuclear weapons technology. The International Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives unanimously passed an amendement requiring the administration to disclose steps taken by Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism. Moving the amendement, representative F H Faleomavaega from American Samoa said, 'although we are appreciative of Pakistan's post-September 11 assistance in the war against terrorism, I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that it has not closed all known terrorist training camps operating in Pakistan.' 'I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that Pakistan has not prohibited the infiltration of Islamic extremists across the Line of Control into Kashmir. I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that Gen Musharraf promised Deputy Secretary Armitage that infiltration would cease and it has not,' said Faleomavaega, ranking member of the sub-committee on Asia and the Pacific. -(PTI)


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