Friday, September 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Jaswant ‘scolds’ Musharraf
Says Taliban have asked J&K ultras to return
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
It was diplomatic symbolism all the way at a surprise press conference of External Affairs and Defence Minister Jaswant Singh here today in which he took Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf head on and remarked that he was “very glad” that Pakistan was now confronting its own child — the Taliban.

Asked to comment on Gen Musharraf’s blatant anti-India remarks in his yesterday’s address to the nation in which he warned India to “lay off” from Afghanistan, Mr Singh minced no words when he said : “Mujhe samajh nahin aata ki General saheb bhabhki kisko de rahe hain” (I don’t understand to whom General saheb is giving this empty threat.” This remark came after he had earlier dismissed a similar question with the comment : “Lay off? Who from what? I don’t have to react to such flamboyant statements.”

Pinpointing another uncharitable remark from Gen Musharraf that India did not share land boundary with Afghanistan and had nothing to do with Afghanistan, the Minister reminded the General that India’s relations with Afghanistan spanned such diverse fields as culture, politics, social and economic and date back to centuries.

Launching a broadside against Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban militia and its nexus with Pakistan, the Minister said “Without Pakistan’s help, Taliban would simply not exist.”

“They (Pakistan-Taliban relations) have existed for years. Now Taliban and Pakistan stand face to face as adversaries. Pakistan now confronts its own child, as it were. I am very glad.”

Mr Singh dropped enough hints that he took with a pinch of salt Pakistan’s offer of “all cooperation” to the world’s fight against terrorism. “If Pakistan indeed has decided to join the forces of sanity we will welcome that change of heart.” But he hastened to add that what was required from Islamabad was not just declaration of intent but of acts and deeds.

The Minister accused Pakistan of “compulsive and perpetual hostility towards India” and reiterated the oft-repeated assertion of India that terrorism and not anything else was the main issue in Indo-Pak relations.

He asserted that the Indian policies were not Pakistan-centric, “though we know that their policies are only India-centric.”

In a significant remark, Mr Singh said there was intelligence input that Taliban supremo Mulla Mohammad Omar had issued an appeal to terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir to come to Afghanistan and fight with the Afghanistani troops to protect it from foreign onslaught. He declined to say anything further on this.

In response to a question, Mr Singh said military option in the present Afghanistan situation was “only one option against a whole basket of options. Military option is not the only determinant.”


India to consider US request: Advani

New Delhi, September 20
Home Minister L.K. Advani has said that India would consider any request from the USA for using the country’s Air Force bases for possible strikes on Afghanistan, but felt that this may not be required.

“There has been no specific request in that regard and no specific decisions have been taken by the government. We will respond when the time arises. Our assessment is that they (US) do not need it.

If any request is made, it would be considered,” he told Karan Thapar on BBC’s ‘Hardtalk India’ programme.

Mr Advani was responding to a question on media reports that New Delhi could allow use of airbases in Avantipur, Adampur and Jamnagar by the USA.

Asked about stationing of multi-national troops on Indian soil, Mr Advani said such a situation had taken place in the early sixties but felt that such a need would not arise again. PTI

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