May 2004 News

Pakistan has no links to ‘terrorist outfits’ in held Kashmir: US official

12 May 2004
The News International

WASHINGTON: The government of Pakistan has 'no connections' with terrorist organisations operating in held Kashmir, 'none today, whatsoever', said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael G Kozak while testifying before the House Sub committee on Human Rights and Wellness, chaired by Indiana Republican Congressman Dan Burton. Kozak, who heads the Bureau of Democracy, human rights and Labour, was asked by Congressman Crowly if Pakistani government or any Pakistani intelligence agency continued to have links with terrorist organisations, based in Pakistan, which continue to 'infiltrate' into held Kashmir. Kozak said there were only two such organisations i.e. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkat-ul-Ansar. He said Pakistan had 'some links' with these organisations in the past but not anymore. About the activities of the 'national' human rights commissions in India and Pakistan, Kozak said Indian human rights commission is 'quite limited' and it could not address the atrocities committed by Indian security forces. On the other hand Pakistani human rights commission was more 'independent'. In his prepared statement, Kozak said: 'We are confident that continued dialogue between India and Pakistan and between New Delhi and Kashmiris has the potential to improve human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.' However, he said: 'In the meantime, the US government would welcome greater transparency by the Indian government to allow independent monitoring of alleged human rights abuses by the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.' Kozak told the Sub committee that 'Pakistan has pledged that no territory under its control will be used to support terrorism in any manner.' He also pointed out that a Kashmir Day speech by President General Pervez Musharraf, 'was more moderate in tone than in past years, stating that Pakistan's support for Kashmir should be political and not military.' When asked if 'infiltration' levels would remain low after snow melting in the area, Kozak said: 'Infiltration levels appear to be down and we hope they will stay down as the snows melt....Pakistan continues its efforts to designate terrorist groups and freeze their assets.' When asked how recently the United States had asked Pakistan to cooperate on this issue, Kozak said Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca was in Pakistan this very moment and had already met President Musharraf. Congressman Dan Burton said: 'The purpose of the hearing was to fully explore the allegations of human rights abuses against Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, women and other minorities, and put the alleged perpetrators of these crimes, as well as governments of India, Pakistan and United States, on notice that this Sub committee is watching their actions closely.' Burton said that if the 'US is serious about building good relations with New Delhi, and rebuilding its reputation around the world as a champion of human rights, then we should not stand by in silence while India perpetrates atrocities against the Muslims, Sikhs and Christians in Kashmir and the disputed territories.' 'Even if we have little power to deter India from repression, we should assert American disapproval more forthrightly,' he said, adding 'Criticising the weak but not the strong is not true leadership.' He was referring to vocal criticism of Cuba and Sudan but not as much about India and China. Robert J Guida, the deputy leader of Republican majority in New Hampshire House of Delegates, said: 'India cleverly deflects attention from its actions in Kashmir by claiming that the Kashmir insurgency is really Muslim-incited 'cross border terrorism' supported by Pakistan....India's success with this charade depends on public ignorance of the exemption of indigenous freedom struggles from the UN definition of 'terrorism'. I submit to you that Kashmir resistance to Indian repression is little different than resistance of Americans colonists to British occupation during our war of independence. I assure you'. Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director of the Kashmir American Counsel, Selig Harrison, a scholar and pro- Indian witness, also testified. Dr Atya Inayatullah, a Kashmir-born activist and politician, was also to testify.


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