September 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India
No shift in Indo-US ties: Jaswant
New Delhi, September 21
Mr Jaswant Singh also announced that he would be going to Washington and meeting his American counterpart Colin Powel on October 2.
During his US visit, he would also be interacting with other top officials, including Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfield. He said he had invitations to meet his British and French counterparts also.
Addressing a crowded news conference after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) here, Mr Jaswant Singh said India had been fighting terrorism for over two decades and had been fighting alone. Now if other countries like the USA are coming forward, we welcome it, the minister said.
In response to a question, he said he did not see India’s relationship with the USA as “a hyphenated relationship” and he was not at all worried about the US attitude of seeking help from Pakistan in the wake of September 11 terrorist attacks.
In another significant averment, he said there was an “uncanny coincidence” that the rebel Afghan leader Ahmad Shah Masood was assassinated just a couple of days before the September 11 terrorist attacks. He said this in response to a specific question whether he saw a link between Masood’s killing and America’s “Black Tuesday”.
The minister had gone to the Afghan embassy to sign the condolence book in which he described Masood as “a great warrior”.
He said today that it was not practical to have any talks with Pakistan in the present situation to resolve outstanding bilateral differences.
Is USA tilting towards Pakistan?
New Delhi, September 21
Without rushing to conclusions, authoritative sources in the government maintain that the statement of American President George W. Bush of trying to “refashion the thinking between India and Pakistan” in the wake of the present crisis should not be viewed out of context.
The important aspect is that Washington has sought adequate and far-reaching facilitation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorist outfits like Al Qaida and its mastermind, Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden, which cannot be glossed over.
This comes at a time when the international community is acutely aware that Pakistan aids and abets terrorism, coupled with Islamabad’s strong links with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan which has all along provided a safe haven to Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the terrorist attacks in the USA.
New Delhi is pursuing an enlarged framework of a “coalition of democracies” to deal with the menace of international terrorism. Even as India’s unstinted support for global war against terrorism is there, it wants the problem to be tackled with a purposeful and sustained strategy.
There is tremendous pressure on the Bush administration by the American people, traumatised by the September 11 airborne terrorist strikes in New York and Washington, to retaliate against the perpetrators of this crime. Mr Bush has cautioned the American people to be prepared for a long-drawn battle against the scourge of international terrorism.
Simultaneously, it is pointed out that it is typical of the Taliban regime to urge Osama bin Laden to leave Afghanistan voluntarily which is widely perceived as time-gaining tactics. In the case of the hijackers of the Indian Airlines aircraft IC 814 in December 1999, the Taliban officially claimed they were unaware of their whereabouts. However, in actuality the Taliban drove down the hijackers close to Chaman on the Pakistani side of the border and set them free.
Informed sources expressed serious doubts about Osama bin Laden having left Afghanistan as claimed in a section of the press in Kabul and Pakistan. They feel he might have moved to Afghanistan’s northeast, towards Herat. Geographically, the options for Osama bin Laden at present are Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkemnistan, Tajiskistan and China. Here again, Pakistan will necessarily have to distance itself from Osama bin Laden or earn the wrath of the USA and China has sealed its border with Afghanistan.
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