Kashmir issue echoes in US Senate hearing
17 February 2006
Washington DC: The Kashmir dispute echoed in the United States Congress twice this week, once during a solidarity meeting for the October 8 earthquake victims and again when a State Department official listed it among the issues that need to be resolved. “We will continue to encourage peace efforts between (India and Pakistan), including a resolution of the question of Kashmir,” Richard Boucher, assistant secretary of state designate for South and Central Asian affairs, told his confirmation hearing on Thursday. But he also stressed the need for closing down militant camps which, he said, were operating along the Line of Control. By raising two key points of the Kashmir dispute – one close to Pakistan’s stance and the other to India’s – Mr Boucher indicated that the Bush administration was not going to take sides on the issue. Elaborating America’s policies for South Asia, Mr Boucher emphasized that all training camps operated by Kashmiri militants needed to be closed down and the sanctity of the LoC had to be respected. The US had “again and again made clear that the LoC has to be respected and camps and operations will have to be closed down,” Mr Boucher told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The debate on Kashmir started when Senator Richard Lugar, who chaired the hearing, asked Mr Boucher what President Pervez Musharraf had done so far to stop Kashmiri militant groups from operating from the Pakistani side of the LoC. Mr Boucher responded by pointing out that President Musharraf had made a ‘fundamental decision’ of changing the course of Pakistan in the aftermath of Sept 11, 2001, and that this was a long-term effort. “It is important for Pakistan to carry that out,” he added.