Monday, September 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India offers conditional help
Says destroy terrorist training camps in Pak, PoK
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 16
India is understood to have conveyed to the USA that it is willing to give all help if the US-led multinational forces attack and destroy terrorist training camps in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Well-placed sources here said today that “all help” would include not just refueling facilities and Indian air bases but also use of warplanes like Mirages, Jaguars and the newly-acquired and yet-to-be battle-tested Sukhoi-30s.

India has also supplied lists and maps of terrorist training camps — 22 in Afghanistan and 56 in PoK — to the US and has conveyed to Washington that the war against terrorism, particularly the Islamic brand of terrorism, could not be won without destroying these jehad machines. This information is over and above the information Indian agencies have passed on to the Americans about the most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, and his network, sources said.

Besides, a military-to-military contact between the two nations has begun in the past 48 hours. The contact is likely to continue with greater intensity in the coming days.

Washington has not so far conveyed its response to the Indian suggestions of the US-led NATO forces taking in their ambit the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and PoK.

However, it is understood that the Americans will pursue a policy of maintaining equidistance vis a vis India and Pakistan. The Americans may not be willing to annoy Pakistan, an old strategic ally, for the sake of India, sources said.

The American definition of terrorism seems to be US-specific and as long as the training camps in Pakistan and PoK do not pose a threat to the USA, Washington would conveniently continue to gloss over this massive anti-India terrorism apparatus.

The assessment of the Vajpayee government is that it knows in its heart that Washington would never touch terrorist training camps in Pakistan and PoK even with a pair of tongs. It also knows that the need for America using Indian bases and warplanes would not arise in the first place.

But if it does, New Delhi would definitely insist on an all-comprehensive war against terrorism while taking the entire terrorism apparatus in Pakistan and PoK in its gambit. A war against terrorism sans this rationale would merely be a half-hearted one.

From the Indian point of view, however, New Delhi stands to gain even if only bin Laden’s network is destroyed and the Pakistan and PoK-based camps are left untouched.

DIPLOMATS’ RECALL: Meanwhile, the government of India is considering to temporarily withdraw its diplomatic staff from Islamabad in view of the imminent US attack on Afghanistan. Such a recall may become necessary as it is feared that the Indian diplomats may be harmed by some fanatics after US reprisal attacks begin.

However, Ms Nirupama Rao, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs here, told this correspondent that “as of now” there was no such move.Back


Bush talks to PM; India offers assistance

New Delhi, September 16
The US President, Mr George W. Bush, called Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee tonight over telephone when India offered “fullest cooperation” in bringing terrorists involved in the attacks in the USA to justice. Mr Vajpayee informed him that he was deputing National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra to visit the USA for discussions, the sources said.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh spoke to his Russian counterpart. Igor Ivanov on telephone and discussed developments related to the terrorist strikes.

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources said no US troops had landed in Pakistan. They also said the USA has also not agreed to any “conditions” reported to have been placed by Pakistan. PTI

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