March 2004 News

Musharraf's comments on terrorism rile India

14 March 2004
The Dawn
Our Correspondent

NEW DELHI: India on Sunday responded angrily to President Gen Perzev Musharraf's address to a symposium in New Delhi, accusing him of double standards in defining terrorism and taking exception to what it described as avoidable public rhetoric on Kashmir. The Indian foreign ministry said in a statement that it had 'carefully examined' Gen Musharraf's comments to an international audience in New Delhi through a satellite link from Islamabad on Saturday. Responding to Gen. Musharraf's comments to the conclave organized by the Indian Today magazine, the Indian statement recalled that the Islamabad Joint Press Statement of January 6 between the two countries 'is clear and unambiguous. It delineates how the (peace) process has to be sustained and taken forward.' The joint statement had observed that violence, hostility and terrorism must be prevented, the Indian statement said. 'The President of Pakistan had reassured the Prime Minister of India that he would not permit the territory under Pakistan's control to be used to support terrorism in any manner. There is no reference to any so-called central or core issue, but to addressing all bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir,' the Indian foreign ministry recalled. 'Any unilateral interpretation of the Joint Press Statement is not conducive to building trust, or taking the process forward; nor is public rhetoric, which is also contrary to the understandings and restraints observed since January,' the statement said. 'Double standards in describing the violent attack on him as terrorism, but on the J&K Assembly in October 2001, and on the present chief minister recently, as a 'freedom fight' are clearly not tenable,' the statement said. Pakistani officials in New Delhi said Gen. Musharraf was subjected to a barrage of provocative questions from Indian participants, including a former foreign secretary, and that his remarks about the centrality of the Kashmir issue and the one pertaining to the freedom struggle in Kashmir came in response to the questions, and not from the original speech. The Indian statement however said that Gen. Musharraf's remarks would not be acceptable to the people of the two countries. 'The reality of the vast goodwill among the people of the two countries, clearly manifested today, and being further consolidated through CBMs, needs to be acknowledged and built upon. Contrary efforts would not be in keeping with the sentiments of the people in both the countries', it said. India, the statement said, is determined to continue with the process initiated by Prime Minister Atal Biaru Vajpayee in April last year, and on the basis of the framework agreed upon.


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