Monday, December 31, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Take decisive steps
Bush telephones Musharraf

Crawford (Texas), December 30
Mr George W. Bush has urged Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on phone to take “additional strong and decisive measures” against “extremists” blamed for violence against India.

Mr Bush had yesterday “urged President Musharraf to take additional strong and decisive measures to eliminate the extremists who seek to harm India; undermine Pakistan; and provoke a war between India and Pakistan and destabilise the coalition against terrorism,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

In a separate phone call to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr Bush said, “The USA is determined to cooperate with India in the fight against terrorism,” said McClellan.

In addition, he “reiterated his outrage over the December 13 attack” on Parliament, which New Delhi accuses Islamabad’s ISI of masterminding.

Mr Bush also telephoned British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is set to travel to the region, to discuss the escalating tension between the two nuclear rivals and ways for Washington and London to defuse the situation, said McClellan.

ISLAMABAD: The US President and Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf three times within three hours in an urgent attempt to defuse rising tensions with India, official sources said.

During the 20-minute conversation with Mr Bush yesterday, Mr Musharraf said he was extremely concerned over the massive Indian troop movements along the border, a source close to Mr Musharraf told AFP.

“Pakistan has shown enough restraint and the situation is getting worse and worse on the other side,” Mr Musharraf was quoted as telling the US leader.

“They have moved two of their groups from their eastern border to the western border (with Pakistan), which are never moved except during war.

“Now we have to take our own last step and with this kind of movement the situation can ignite at any time,” he said, without elaborating as to what that step might be.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar also warned that the amount of troops and military hardware at the border meant the dispute with India was growing “dangerously tense”.

Mr Powell, who had placed the first call of the day, called back shortly to urge Mr Musharraf not to react to the deployments. AgenciesBack


Advani seeks firm assurance

New Delhi, December 30
Describing Islamabad’s steps against terrorist outfits as “a joke”, Home Minister L.K. Advani said today Pakistan could even now give “firm assurance” to the world community and India that it would stop aiding and abetting terrorism in order to prevent New Delhi from taking any measure at the non-diplomatic level.

“So far steps have been taken at the diplomatic level only, and even such strong measures have not been taken in the past. Any step at the non-diplomatic level can be taken only because our neighbour continues to support terrorism,” Mr Advani told “Hum Hazir Hain” programme on Doordarshan’s national channel.

Stating that terrorism had crossed the “Lakshman rekha” with the December 13 attack on Parliament, Mr Advani said “No sovereign nation which is conscious of its right to security can sit silent. It has to think as to what steps need to be taken to check this menace”.

Referring to Islamabad’s response to India’s demands for taking action against terrorist outfits Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Home Minister said “to our demands for freezing of their assets or arresting their leaders, there is till now no sign of anything concrete. Their response to our demands is .... a joke.

“While terrorism is dangerous, the most dangerous is the state which sponsors terrorism, arms and finances terrorist groups. Therefore the Taliban and Pakistani regimes are most dangerous,” Mr Advani said.

On similar lines, he said the USA had made the Taliban its target, “displaced” them from power and installed a new government in Kabul, though Osama bin Laden has not yet been caught and none knows whether he is dead or alive.

Mr Advani said while the people’s feelings had to be taken into account in a democracy, several other factors like the response of the armed forces and the inputs received from intelligence agencies had to be taken into account to decide on the response the government should take.

“I can understand the people’s feelings in this regard. Soon after the September 11 terror strikes in the USA, people started asking what is (president) Bush doing or is he afraid of taking action. But now they (USA) have removed the Taliban. So the process takes time,” the Home Minister said. PTIBack

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