May 2003 News

Onus on India to assess infiltration: U.S.

11 May 2003
The Hindu
Amit Baruah

NEW DELHI: In the bilateral India-Pakistan dynamic, the United States is not going to be the one to ensure that the Pakistani leadership lives up to its commitment made in June last year to end cross-border terrorism and infiltration. Informed sources, giving an account of the five official meetings that the Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, had yesterday during his visit, told this correspondent that Washington had washed its hands off the commitment made last year. However, Mr. Armitage said during his talks that the onus to assess 'progress' on the issue of cross-border terrorism lay with India. The sources believed this was a signal to Islamabad that India alone would decide what constituted significant steps on the part of Pakistan in the battle against terrorism. On differences of perception between India and the U.S. on assessing Pakistani motives and intentions (what were described as 'double standards' by India earlier), the sources said these divergences remained. For instance, Indian interlocutors told Mr. Armitage that the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, may be cooperating in dealing with the Al-Qaeda, but not in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan and terrorist groups operating against India. The Deputy Secretary of State said Gen. Musharraf himself was vulnerable to groups such as the Lashkar-e- Taiba, that worked not just against Indian interests but American interests as well. In fact, the U.S. is reported to have shared information with Islamabad about LeT threats to the Pakistani President. The sources claimed that in all his meetings at the official level &*151; with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the External Affairs Minister, the Finance Minister and the Foreign Secretary - a single, consistent message was sent out to Mr. Armitage. One senior Minister went to the extent of telling Mr. Armitage that the U.S. was so 'tied' to Pakistan that it was unable to do anything about the problem of cross-border terrorism that India faced. Indian interlocutors said that this 'on-off' approach taken by Pakistan on the issue of cross-border terrorism was not going to work. Islamabad could not do one thing on infiltration in January and another thing in February, it was pointed out to Mr. Armitage. New Delhi also conveyed to the U.S. official that if Islamabad were to take serious and credible steps on the issue of cross-border terrorism then India would respond favourably in taking the process of contact with Pakistan further. The sources, echoing the recent public statements made by the National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra, said the U.S. did not have any 'end-results' in mind when it came to a solution of the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. Their focus remained on lowering tensions and conflict-prevention. These sources also claimed that Washington had been taken by 'surprise' as far as the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee's 'Srinagar initiative' was concerned. Washington was, however, hoping that the rapprochement process between India and Pakistan would move forward. It's evident that Mr. Armitage was not able to provide India with anything 'concrete' as far as Pakistan and terrorism are concerned.


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