India Attacks Kashmir 'blackmail'
25 September 2003
London: Indian PM Atal Behari Vajpayee has accused Pakistan of 'terrorist blackmail' in the dispute over Kashmir. He said President Pervez Musharraf's offer of a ceasefire was tantamount to admitting that Islamabad sponsored militants fighting Indian rule there. 'We totally refuse to let terrorism become a tool of blackmail,' Mr Vajpayee told the UN General Assembly. He also launched a searing attack on the UN Security Council, calling for a radical overhaul of its membership. Just as the world did not negotiate with al-Qaeda or the Taleban, we shall not negotiate with terrorism Mr Vajpayee said the council's failings had been exposed by the 'extraordinary inability' of its five permanent members to agree on what action to take in Iraq. 'The permanent members guard their exclusivity,' Mr Vajpayee said. With its population of over a billion people, India has long believed that it, too, should have a permanent seat. 'Cross-border terrorism' General Musharraf had addressed the General Assembly a day earlier. Indian forces have been fighting Kashmir militants for over a decade He accused India of refusing to enter a dialogue over Kashmir, which he called the world's most dangerous dispute - a reference to the nuclear weapons both countries possess. He called for a complete ceasefire along the Line of Control which divides the disputed Himalayan territory. Prime Minister Vajpayee repeated India's line that it would only hold talks with Pakistan when 'cross-border terrorism' had ended. 'Just as the world did not negotiate with al- Qaeda or the Taleban, we shall not negotiate with terrorism.' India accuses Pakistan of arming, training and funding the rebels. Pakistan says it provides only moral and diplomatic support to 'freedom fighters', and accuses India of gross human rights abuses in Kashmir. 'Our thoughts and concerns should be about the suffering of the people of Iraq,' he said in his address. He called for a co-ordinated effort to restore Iraq's security and stability. 'The UN has a crucial role to play in this process of political and economic reconstruction.'