October 2003 News

US politician answers Indian-sponsored criticism

13 October 2003
The Daily Times

WASHINGTON: Robert Guida, a New Hampshire legislator who has been speaking up for Kashmiri self-determination in and outside the state legislature, has launched a sharp counterattack to accusations that he is 'appeasing terrorism'.Since Mr Guida and Pakistan-born New Hampshire legislator Saghir Tahir returned from a visit to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, having spoken consistently in favour of Kashmiri rights, the Indian embassy here and some members of the Indian-American community have been lobbying against them, accusing them of supporting 'terrorism'. A recent article in the New Hampshire newspaper, Union Leader, castigated both of them on that count.Mr Guida has now written a reply to the allegations on his and his colleague's behalf in the same newspaper. He calls the criticism a 'clever ruse' and points out that its author, one Subrahmanyan, is a 'member of a pro-India organisation' and has attempted 'Pakistan bashing' to divert attention from 'Indian repression' in Kashmir. 'He uses our free press - forbidden in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) - to do so,' he adds.He writes, 'Rep Tahir and I unconditionally condemn terrorism. We believe the ultimate victory against terrorism lies not only in a just war against terrorists, but in attacking the root causes of hatred and terrorism against the United States. Mr Subrahmanyan's rub is that we include India's actions in Kashmir in our condemnation. Does he really believe that Indian persecution of the Kashmiri Muslim majority in a disputed territory bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and India is irrelevant to the war on terrorism?'Mr Guida discloses that the US State Department advised Mr Tahir against leading a delegation to Azad Kashmir and Pakistan but he ignored their warning and 'courageously led a private delegation to Pakistan to preserve East-West lines of communication. That was the beginning of our war on terrorism. 'Pakistan bashing' works well for India. Without question, Pakistan has problems. However, it has been our ally for over 50 years staging area for U-2 spy planes during the Cold War; pathway for Kissinger when Nixon opened the road to China; combatant in the Soviet-Afghan war; and declared ally in the war on terrorism.'Mr Guida states that India's ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party, which refused sending peacekeepers to Iraq, seeks Indian 'unification' or the 'eradication of Pakistan'. He points out that the FBI has reported that in 2002, BJP staged the mass murder of 200 Hindus to generate support for Hindu political candidate(s). Two thousand Muslim men, women and children were locked in their homes and burned alive by Hindu mobs while Indian police and paramilitaries watched. Since the BJP took power in 1999, 150 churches have burned in India. 'This state-sponsored terrorism pales in comparison to the 80,000 street killings, 9,000 rapes, and 6,000 custodial killings by Indian forces in Kashmir since 1989.'He goes on to suggest, 'Let's focus on Kashmir. Witness the remarks of India's minister of external affairs, responding to President Musharraf's September 24 UN request for help resolving Kashmir 'What gives Pakistan the right to talk about Jammu and Kashmir? I don't understand this. Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India - the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. It is an inalienable part of India and nobody, absolutely nobody, can take an inch away of that territory from us. That is the bottom line.' Does this sound like a government committed to peace in South Asia, even as it defies the original premise of partition and six standing UN resolutions?' -KH


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