Thursday, October 18, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Powell backs India’s fight against terrorism
Clarifies remarks on Kashmir
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 17
While India today conveyed to the USA that there could be no dialogue with Pakistan till it stopped cross-border activities, Secretary of State Colin Powell today sought to clarify his yesterday’s controversial statement that Kashmir issue was "central" to Indo-Pak relationship. but sought to make a grammatical clarification about it.

Addressing a Press conference jointly with External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh at the conclusion of his India visit, Mr Powell sought to make a grammatical clarification about his statement made in Islamabad and said he was misquoted as he had referred to Kashmir as "a central issue" between India and Pakistan and not "the central" issue. He, however, said the issue had to be bilaterally resolved between the two countries.

The Secretary of State described Kashmir as an "important issue" and said that it was "central in the sense that it is an important issue."

Mr Powell expressed support to India’s fight against terrorism saying America made no distinction between what happened on September 11 and the October 1 attack outside the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. He endorsed the Indian stand that the Kashmir issue could not be resolved on the basis of a two-nation theory.

Mr Powell said America was committed to rooting out terrorism in all its manifestations and forms and made it clear that the American war against terror was not confined to Afghanistan alone. “Our efforts are directed at all forms of terrorism including against India,” he said. However, in the same breath he added that India and Pakistan must move forward to resume dialogue.

Mr Jaswant Singh, answering a question from an American journalist, said India hoped that the economic aid which Islamabad would receive would be utilised for the “right purposes” and reminded Mr Powell that India had to face the consequence of American military aid to Pakistan.

Both Mr Powell and Mr Singh said India and America stood “shoulder-to-shoulder” in the fight against terrorism.

Meanwhile, Mr Colin Powell was learnt to have asked India to exercise restraint vis-a-vis Pakistan and also conveyed Islamabad’s complaint against New Delhi on the October 15 incident at the Line of Control (LoC) in which India had destroyed 11 Pakistani posts and killed 30 infiltrators.

The Indian leadership is also understood to have asked Mr Powell to pressurise Pakistan to hand over notorious terrorists and criminals like Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim, but the US dignitary made no commitment in this regard.

Well-placed sources in the South Block told The Tribune today that the Indian leadership responded to Mr Powell’s request saying that they would exercise restraint but Pakistan should also be told to exercise “restraint” when it came to their activities of aiding and abetting terrorism.

Mr Powell could not give any assurance to India on behalf of Pakistan in this regard as the USA is aware of the fact that it cannot afford to annoy Pakistan when it needs logistic and operational help from that country for its ongoing “Operation Enduring Freedom”.

It is learnt, however, that during his Pakistan-leg of the South Asian tour, Mr Powell had informally told Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to “go slow” on anti-India activities, at least till the US operation in Afghanistan was continuing.

Sources said in practical terms this meant nothing for India as it demonstrated that Mr Powell was seeing the war against terror through the US prism and the USA was just not interested in interfering in the Indo-Pak dispute this way or that way.

Mr Powell’s visit to the Indian subcontinent, sources said, was undertaken to impress upon the leadership of the two countries to refrain from hawkish statements and acts which could build up yet another pressure situation, which in turn, could be detrimental to the US interests.

Sources said the USA was concerned that India could do something adventuristic to take advantage of Pakistan’s present crisis due to the Afghanistan situation. The American fear has been buttressed by remarks of Indian leaders ever since October 1 Jammu and Kashmir Assembly attack, the sum and substance of which has been a clear-cut warning to Pakistan that the Indian patience was fast running out.

During his 20-hour- visit here, Mr Powell had wide-ranging discussions with the Indian leadership on bilateral, multilateral and regional issues. focussing mainly on the US strikes in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

India raised the issue of cross-border terrorism. Mr Powell also brought Pakistan’s complaint against India on the recent flare-up on the LoC in which the Indian Army destroyed Pakistani posts. It was made clear to Mr Powell that this was not a violation of the LoC and incidents of infiltration for the past few weeks had increased on that particular stretch along Mendar where the October 14-15 incidents took place..

Formation of a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan also figured prominently in Mr Powell’s discussions with the Indian leaders. Mr Powell explained to the Indian side the Pakistan viewpoint that there should be a broad-based government in which at least 50 per cent representation should be from the Pakhtoons or the so-called “moderate Taliban”. India has repeatedly rejected the very idea that there could be a moderate Taliban.

The Pakistanis also made it clear to Mr Powell that ethnic minorities like Tajiks, Ujbeks and Shia groups were controlling only 10 per cent of Afghanistan and were in no way acceptable to Pakistan.

To India’s repeated concerns on Pakistan’s continued support to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere within the country, Mr Powell said at the moment the first and topmost priority was to crush “Al-Qaida’ and Osama bin Laden and those who harboured them.Back


Bush invites PM to USA on Nov 9
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 17
The US President, Mr George W. Bush, has invited Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for “a working visit” to Washington on November 9 and Mr Vajpayee has accepted the invitation, US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced here today.

Mr Powell said Mr Vajpayee was to go to the United Nations General Assembly in November and Mr Bush had invited the Prime Minister to meet him in a working visit.

The Prime Minister was to visit New York last month to attend the UN General Assembly session and was also to meet President Bush on the margins of UNGA at that time. 


Powell meets Sonia
Tribune News Service

Congress President Sonia Gandhi with US Secretary of State Colin Powell at her residence in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, October 17
The US Secretary of State, Mr Colin Powell, today met the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi and exchanged views on the situation arising out of American military attacks in Afghanistan as part of its campaign against global terrorism.

During their half-an-hour meeting, Ms Gandhi expressed concern over the loss of innocent lives in Afghanistan and hoped that civilian casualities would be avoided in the US strikes.

Mr Powell was accompanied by a seven-member high-powered delegation, including US Ambassador in India Robert Blackwill, Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca, State department spokesman Richard Boucher, Harry Thomas from the National Security Council and Under Secretary (Arms Control and International Security) John Bolsten.

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Manmohan Singh and Chairman of AICC’s Foreign Affairs department Natwar Singh were among others present at the meeting held at Ms Gandhi’s residence here. The Congress Chief’s meeting with Mr Powell comes a day after she convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee and reviewed the situation in the region.Back

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