November 2003 News

Do more to end terrorism: UK to Pak

2 November 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

LONDON: Sharing India’s concern over cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, Britain wants Pakistan to 'do more' in putting an end to it before expecting resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue. 'There has to be evidence of real change (in tackling this issue) before the dialogue starts', a senior British official told a group of visiting Indian journalists here. Terming as 'very positive' the recent proposals by India to improve relations with Pakistan, he said this was an 'encouraging step' and would help maintain the momentum started by the peace initiative of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on April 18 this year. Asked about promises made by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on the issue of taking the country on the path of democracy, the official said 'the movement towards democratisation in that country is disappointing'. On whether India should at any future date be talking to Musharraf or Prime Minister Jamali, the official said 'the question of who talks to whom is an issue on which we don’t want to express a view'. But he felt that Musharraf has to be 'involved' in any engagement at the political level between Indian and Pakistani leaders. Observing that there was a 'great deal of sympathy' for the Indian position, the official said 'UK expects Pakistan to take 'meaningful action' on the issue of cross-border terrorism. On its part, India should then move in a direction where talks with Pakistan can take place, the official said. Britain felt that 'official tolerance' of activities of terrorist groups in Pakistan was not in the interest of that country. He was asked about reports of official patronage being given by Pakistan to terrorist groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba as also Islamabad turning a blind eye to re-grouping of Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements mostly in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Pakistan has repeatedly conveyed to Britain that it was doing all it can and that there was no official support for cross-border infiltration, the official said. 'We are continuing to tell Pakistan that more has to be done in this regard', he said. Asked about the Kashmir imbroglio, he said 'we are aware that there is no easy solution. It will take time. But one should not start while looking at what will be the outcome. The process has to go on and the confidence-building measures have to continue.' The official touched on a range of issues covering bilateral, regional and important international issues. Britain is of the view that 'enormous credit' has to be given to Vajpayee for initiating the peace process. 'We do understand that it is going to be a slow process... But there is sincerity', he said. He felt the 'public mood' in both India and Pakistan was strongly against moving towards any conflict situation. Regretting that the SAARC process has not really got off the ground, the official said there was an impending need for a change of mindset. He felt that India, as the big power in the region, should think of the larger picture while appreciating the sensitivities of smaller countries in the region. Noting that India has emerged as a country of 'growing importance', he said Britain would like to see it playing 'key role' in regional and global affairs. Britain would like to see Pakistan back in the Commonwealth, he said when asked about continuation of suspension of Pakistan from the commonwealth councils. Asked about concerns voiced over the introduction of transit visa for specified segments of passengers, he said this was brought about because of people misusing their halt here and using it to seek asylum. (PTI)


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