Thursday, September 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

USA hints at fresh ban list
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
The USA today kept the doors open for banning Kashmiri Militant outfits Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

US Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill told reporters that only the first list of groups and individuals whose assets had been frozen by the Bush administration had come out so far. “There is going to be evolution of that list without any doubt”, Mr Blackwill said.

The US Ambassador dismissed reports in a section of the media that Washington had been ignoring India’s concerns on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and made it clear that it was determined to treat South Asia “in a non-hyphenated way”. He added that his country was interested in making the Indo-US relationship broader and deeper. He also hinted at the possibility of reopening the military sales to India which the USA had suspended in the wake of the 1998 nuclear tests.

Saying that India and the USA had become “unthinkable partners”, Mr Blackwill said the global fight against terrorism would not remain confined to Afghanistan alone, but include Jammu and Kashmir as well.

“In the long run, we need to address terrorism everywhere in the world. But in the first instance the primary concern is to tackle Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda and its network”, said Mr Blackwill.

In the first instance, focus was on terrorist networks in Afghanistan and “export of terrorism from that country”, he stressed. He also mentioned the importance of stability in Pakistan was obvious and said Washington felt Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was managing the situation well in that respect.

Mr Blackwill said terrorism was a problem that could not be stamped out in a piecemeal manner. Also, there was an overwhelming consensus in the international community that in the long run the menace of terrorists would have to be fought everywhere. 


Bin Laden near Kandahar

OSAMA bin Laden, the Saudi dissident wanted by the USA “dead or alive” for the September 11 terror strikes, remains very much in Afghanistan, according to a senior Afghan diplomat here.

“According to our information, he is in Urozan, close to Kandahar,” said Syed Sardar Ahmad Ahmadi, charge d’affaires of the Afghanistan Embassy here. Ahmadi represents the ousted government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani that is recognised by the United Nations and most other countries, including India.

There has been international speculation that Bin Laden may have fled Afghanistan with the Taliban saying it did not know his whereabouts.

Afghanistan’s opposition Northern Alliance, led by Rabbani, has sworn to wreak vengeance on Bin Laden, the ruling Taliban and Pakistan for the assassination of legendary military commander Ahmed Shah Masood earlier this month.

But Ahmadi warned the USA and its allies against sending troops into the war-ravaged country, saying that people of Afghanistan hate the presence of foreign soldiers in their country which had seen decades of war with the British, the Russians and among themselves.

“The people of Afghanistan hate to see the face of foreign soldiers. Foreign forces are foreign forces. The best thing for them is to support the (opposition) Northern Alliance,” Ahmadi said in an interview with the IANS at the sprawling but deserted mission here.

The brick and marble mission building in New Delhi’s Chanakyapuri diplomatic enclave has hardly any visitors these days. Nor are there visa seekers queuing up outside, a regular scene till a few years ago.

Since the Taliban took control of Kabul in 1996, the Embassy of the Islamic State of Afghanistan has had not much work to do, except for providing consular services to some 11,000 Afghan refugees who had fled the country and taken refuge in India.

The rows of chairs in the visitors’ room and sofa sets in the lobby have seen better days. The number of Afghan diplomats and their supporting staff has been halved to about 15. Indian staff at the mission have also been pared to about six.

“We have been fighting the Taliban for many years and we understand their (military) operations and methods better than anyone,” said Ahmadi, who is holding the fort in the absence of Ambassador Masood Khalili. IANS

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