Friday, November 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Indo-US talks to focus on terrorism
Post-Taliban govt also on PM’s agenda
Hari Jaisingh

Washington, November 8
Fighting international terrorism in all its forms being on top of his agenda, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s discussions with US President George Bush at the White House here tomorrow will focus on the post-Taliban government in Afghanistan, strategic matters, Indo-Pak relations and bilateral matters.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on his arrival at Andrews US Air Force Station.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on his arrival at Andrews US Air Force Station in Washington on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Even though the USA acknowledges India as a major rising power in this region, Mr Vajpayee will impress upon Mr Bush that the USA should not look at India with the same prism as it views Pakistan despite its current status as a frontline state in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister is expected to forcefully tell the host President that irrespective of Pakistan providing assistance to the US-led strike in Afghanistan to smoke out Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden and smash the Al Quaida outfit, Islamabad’s policy of state-sponsored terrorism cannot be condoned. In the Moscow Declaration India and Russia have underlined the need for adopting international laws for dealing with such errant states. The Pakistan factor should not come in the way of strengthening close and long-term relations between the world’s two largest democracies.

The US-led coalition of democracies against international terrorism cannot overlook Pakistan’s continuing proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Vajpayee and Russian President Vladimir Putin have maintained that there are no “good” or “bad” terrorists. It is, therefore, imperative not to draw any distinctions in respect of acts of violence by terrorists.

Mr Vajpayee will reaffirm India’s determination to deal with the menace of terrorism as well as the right to destroy terrorist camps across the border in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and elsewhere if required as New Delhi has shown tremendous restraint and patience for too long.

The Prime Minister will remove any misgivings in the Bush Administration by assuring the US President that India will not do anything to precipate matters which turns South Asia into a flashpoint and puts a spoke in the military operations in Afghanistan. There is fear in Washington that the serious strain in Indo-Pak relations might hold the portends of a fresh conflict erupting in the region.

India, on its part, has taken all the initiatives to normalise relations with Pakistan and has repeatedly been stabbed in the back. India has rejected Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf’s cacophony of centralising the Kashmir issue and has stressed for a composite dialogue bringing the Kashmir tangle also within its ambit. Pakistan must stop cross-border terrorism for any meaningful and purposeful bilateral dialogue.

Mr Vajpayee believes that any talks with Pakistan at this moment is bound to be botched. He has said India is not interested in a public relations exercise especially when violence in Jammu and Kashmir continues to be aided and abetted by Islamabad.

In supporting a broad-based government in Kabul, India maintains it has a role to play in the post-Taliban arrangement in Afghanistan. Russia feels the six-plus-two mechanism is inadequate and has called for India’s active role in Afghanistan because of its understanding of the situation in that war ravaged country.

Mr Vajpayee is expected to take up the issue of expanding the six-plus-two mechanism with Mr Bush. At the same time India is firmly against any moderate Taliban elements or otherwise being part of a broad-based government in Afghanistan.

While seeking intensification of the international coalition against terrorism, India and the USA recognise the need to maintain the momentum of their relationship despite current challenges following the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and the imperatives of the changed US-Pakistan relationship.

Mr Vajpayee arrived here yesterday from Moscow on the second leg of his ten-day tour to three major powers. Asked by reporters at Blair House, the Presidential guest house, whether he would meet Gen Musharraf in New York, Mr Vajpayee’s one line response was: “We can meet in Delhi.”


PM’s no to cross-border terrorism

Washington, November 8
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today made it clear that India should not be expected tamely to accept Pakistan’s sponsoring of cross-border terrorism.

"Unfortunately, we continue to face cross-broder terrorism and increased infiltrations across the border and the Line of Control," Mr Vajpayee told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"You would understand, as elected representatives of the people, that public opinion seeks action from its elected representatives when such incidents occur. That is what I wrote to President Bush on October 1 after the terrorist act against the State Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir when over 40 persons lost their lives," he said.

The Prime Minister said while India in no way wanted to shift the focus from the international coalition’s current military campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan, "but at the same time we need to ensure that we do not tamely accept terrorist acts against us from across the border.

Mr Vajpayee’s host at the Senate meeting was Senator Daschle, the powerful Senate majority leader, while in the House he was hosted by Speaker Dennis Hastert who, under the American system, has control over what the House passes or does not pass.

Mr Vajpayee told the Senators that in the past year, a new administration (of President Bush) has taken over in the USA and this had in no way interrupted the tempo and growth of Indo-American relationship.

"We have maintained the dialogue architecture (begun under President Clinton), we have progressed on defence cooperation and we have had detailed consultations on the new strategic framework which President Bush unveiled in May this year.

"We are now discussing the enlargement of our economic dialogue to cover new areas.”

In a veiled reference to Pakistan’s aiding militancy in Kashmir, Mr Vajpayee today said members of the coalition against terror mastermind Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaida network cannot be permitted to indulge in terrorism elsewhere.

Addressing the House International Relations Committee, he said "as victims of terrorism over the last two decades, we are conscious of the fact that unless this menace (of terrorism) is tackled in a global and comprehensive manner, it will raise its head in various regions of the world.

"It obviously follows from this that the battle against terrorism cannot end in Afghanistan. It has to address similar manifestations elsewhere," Mr Vajpayee said.

"When I was in Moscow yesterday, President Putin reminded us that the suppression of terrorism in one place also restrains terrorism elsewhere. Conversely, condoning of terrorism encourages terrorism everywhere."

Mr Vajpayee today proposed "a more cooperative" Indo-US partnership as recent events would have long-term and unpredictable consequences for international relations. Mr Vajpayee told the 130-member Congressional India Caucus-the largest such body in congress to promote close Indo-US ties. PTI


Vajpayee’s diplomacy on test
Hari Jaisingh

Washington, November 8
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has picked up the threads of the multi-dimensional Indo-American dialogue here today in right earnest against the backdrop of the September 11 events that have brought world leaders closer than ever before in the global war against terrorism.

Mr Vajpayee’s visit has assumed special significance after his wide-ranging talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is a key player in Afghan developments after British Prime Minister Tony Blair held discussions with President George Bush yesterday.

The Prime Minister’s agenda for discussions among with American leaders among other things will draw attention to India’s continued suffering at the hands of various terrorist groups still operating in the Kashmir valley and beyond with the support of Islamabad’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Mr Vajpayee has set the ball rolling with his meeting with Senate majority leader Tom Daschle and Senate minority leader Trent Lott. He also met members of the International Relations Committee of the House during the day. Equally significant was the Prime Minister’s luncheon meeting with the India Caucus which has grown over a period of time.

The Caucus has in its fold over 110 members drawn from the Congress, including influential Senators who play an important part in the evolution of American foreign policy and postures.

Policy makers in Washington are appreciative of India’s support for the American action against the Taliban and the menace of terrorism. Perhaps the USA is the only country which could have mounted such a massive operation against the Taliban. But Washington can sustain it only with international support loosely termed as global coalition against terrorism.

Seeking Pakistan’s cooperation in this operation was the choice of Washington. May be geopolitical and other considerations have been uppermost in the American mind. Thus, it has allowed Islamabad a wider role but there is now increasing realisation here of the dubious role being played by President Pervez Musharraf and the ISI in feeding the USA distorted information. Whether this will lead to some modification in the US policy in the subcontinent remains to be seen.

Much depends on how candidly and emphatically Mr Vajpayee talks to President Bush during their luncheon meeting tomorrow. There is no point in hiding the true feelings of the Indian people.

America needs to clearly appreciate that India’s patience is not unlimited. It cannot take more of this blood letting in Kashmir. And to talk of an Indo-Pak dialogue as Mr Vajpayee has made it clear in the present atmosphere will be unproductive and misplaced.

Yes, once cross border terrorism is called off by Islamabad it will be possible to have a meaningful dialogue for settling all problems and issues. As a first step, New Delhi will like Islamabad to wind up the terrorist camps. If America is unwilling to press this demand on Pakistan, then India will have to resort to its own devices.

Nations do not live in fear for long. Nor will they accept terrorism for long. A time comes when there will be a call for sacrifices. America is making these sacrifices today. India knows when the time comes for it to act decisively there should be no doubts on this count in Washington.

Mr Vajpayee’s diplomacy is on test in the crucial days ahead.

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