Wednesday, May 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Musharraf backing J&K insurgency
US report names Lashkar, Harkat units
Aziz Haniffa

Washington, May 1
In a significantly tougher stand on Pakistan compared to previous years, the US State Department’s annual report on global terrorism has slammed Gen Pervez Musharraf’s regime for supporting insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir with men and material.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, in remarks preceding the release of the “Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000” report, also lauded India’s support to combating international terrorism and declared that the USA was achieving the basic objective of its counter-terrorism strategy largely because of the active and intensive cooperation of the international community, particularly with countries like India.

“Pakistan’s military government headed by Gen. Pervez Musharraf continued the previous Pakistani government support of the Kashmir insurgency, and Kashmiri militant groups continued to operate in Pakistan, raising funds and recruiting new cadre,” the report said.

It said “several of these groups were responsible for attacks against civilians in Kashmir, and the largest of the groups, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack against an Army garrison in Srinagar in April (last year).”

In addition, the report said the Harkat ul-Mujahideen (HUM), “a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, continues to be active in Pakistan without discouragement by the Government of Pakistan.”

It recalled that members of this group were associated with the hijacking in December, 1999, of an Indian Airlines flight that resulted in the release from an Indian jail of former HUM leader Maulana Masood Azhar. “Azhar has since founded his own Kashmiri militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and has publicly threatened the USA,” the report noted.

Although not designating the LeT as a foreign terrorist organisation, much to the chagrin of New Delhi, the report, in an appendix providing background information on terrorist groups, included the LeT for the first time along with the HUM and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Meanwhile, the report said the U.S. “remains concerned about reports of continued Pakistani support for the Taliban’s military operations in Afghanistan” and that “credible reporting indicates that Pakistan is providing the Taliban with material, fuel, funding, technical assistance, and military advisers.”

It also noted that “Pakistan has not prevented large numbers of Pakistani nationals from moving into Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban.” It said, “Islamabad also failed to take effective steps to curb the activities of certain ‘madrassas,’ or religious schools, that serve as recruiting grounds for terrorism.”

But it acknowledged that Pakistan had publicly and privately committed itself to complying fully with the United Nations Security Council Resolution, which imposes an arms embargo on the Taliban.

The report also noted that after the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in October prompted fears of US retaliatory strikes against Saudi renegade Osama bin Laden’s organisation and targets in Afghanistan if the investigation pointed in that direction, “Pakistani religious party leaders and militant groups threatened US citizens and facilities if such action were to occur.”

In the preamble to the section on South Asia, the report declared, “In 2000, South Asia remained a focal point for terrorism directed against the USA, further confirming the trend of terrorism shifting from the Middle East to South Asia,” which happened primarily because of the Taliban.

The report, however, commended New Delhi for its “continued cooperative efforts with the USA against terrorism,” and pointed out that during the year the US-India Joint Counterterrorism Working Group, founded in November, 1999, had met twice and agreed to “increased cooperation on mutual counter-terrorism interests.”

“We have increased our cooperation with a number of countries and regions,” Powell said, and noted, “we continue to work closely with India.”

He said the “results are clear: state sponsors of terrorism are increasingly isolated; terrorist groups are under growing pressure; terrorists are being brought to justice.” Powell asserted “we will not let up,” but cautioned that “we must also be aware of the nature of the threat before us. Terrorism is a persistent disease.”

He said “many of you have heard me speak of the positive side of globalisation, but terrorism shows the dark side as it exploits the easing of travel restrictions, the improvements of communication or the internationalisation of banking and finance, making it easier for terrorists to do some of their work.”

The report itself praised India for its continued cooperation with US officials “to ascertain the fate of four Western hostages — including one US citizen — kidnapped in Kashmir in 1995, although the hostages’ whereabouts remained unknown.” IANS


There is tangible proof: India

New Delhi, May 1
A day after the Bush Administration slammed Pakistan for continuing to support insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, India today made out a strong case against the militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), saying there was “tangible evidence” to establish its “terrorist credentials”.

“We are hopeful that the tangible evidence of the Lashkar, statements of its own leaders claiming responsibility for terrorist acts as also the decision of other governments against it would leave no doubt about the terrorist credentials of the LeT,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman said when asked New Delhi’s comments about the militant outfit not figuring in the US list. PTI

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