Thursday, January 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Powell does not rule out Indo-Pak war

US Secretary of State Colin PowellWashington, January 9
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that every opportunity for a political and diplomatic solution between India and Pakistan notwithstanding, there was no certainty that a war could be averted between the two neighbours.

“It is a very tense and dangerous situation,’’ General Powell said, referring to the standoff between the two countries.

“Any situation where you have forces that have mobilised and are in proximity to one another and are at something on a warfooting is a dangerous situation,’’ he added.

Even Pakistan’s longtime ally China, “which has supplied it with nuclear and missile technology’’, was advising Islamabad to stand down and end support for terrorism, General Powell said.

State Department sources have said General Powell may visit South Asia early next week with stops in Pakistan and India as also in Afghanistan.

He noted that China “is playing a responsible role in trying to reduce the tension and not taking one side or the other. ... So far, we have prevented a conflict from breaking out.”

General Powell said both sides have said they were desirous of resolving their differences through political and diplomatic means.’’

The Secretary of State said he held regular phone conversations with General Musharraf to discuss the “possibilities with respect to reaching a point where the two sides can say, All right, let’s start to de-escalate.’’

“We’re not at that point yet, but I think there are some elements of progress that I have seen in the last several days that suggest to me that we still have time to find a political and diplomatic solution.’’

General Powell said he had spoken to India and Pakistan about the importance of avoiding the use of nuclear weapons.

“I think both sides recognise the seriousness of this situation and the seriousness of letting it become an armed conflict,’’ he said. “That message has been given to both sides clearly, to include the nuclear aspects of it.’’

The Washington Post quoted analysts as saying that Pakistan would be the first to use nuclear weapons, but only if faced with dismemberment and occupation by India.

Given that scenario, India is likely, in the event it does attack, to limit its focus to terrorist and militant sites such as training camps, offices and armories, both in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and in Pakistan itself, the Post said.

Meanwhile, Mr Powell spoke to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on telephone to reduce tensions with India that threaten to erupt into the two nuclear rivals’ fourth conflict in five decades.

“They continue to look at ways to fight terrorism and ways to de-escalate tensions between India and Pakistan,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday.

He joined Britain in welcoming comments by General Musharraf during a visit by Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday that amounted to the Pakistani leader’s strongest public rejection of terrorism. UNI, ReutersBack


Musharraf sets up panel on Kashmir

Islamabad, January 9
President Pervez Musharraf today constituted a National Kashmir Committee to mobilise world opinion for the settlement of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolution.

The committee will be headed by former President of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) Sardar Abdul Qayyum. The members of the committee were drawn from all four provinces, PoK and overseas Pakistanis-Kashmiris. The names of the members will be announced prior to the committee’s first meeting.

The committee will hold its inaugural session on January 15 which will be chaired by General Musharraf.

New Delhi: India on Tuesday rejected Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s demand for the UN intervention to resolve outstanding Indo-Pak issues, asserting the issues had to be tackled “directly and bilaterally” between the two neighbours on the basis of understandings in the 1972 Simla Agreement.

“We have always said the only way for India and Pakistan as far as the resolution of outstanding issues is concerned is through bilateral discussions and on the basis of the understandings enshrined in the Simla Agreement,” an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson told reporters.

“This is the only way, we believe, that matters can be resolved directly, bilaterally and through discussions between India and Pakistan without recourse to or intervention by any third party or international institution,” she said.

She was asked about General Musharraf saying that there should be UN intervention since the two countries have been unable to resolve contentious issues for a long time.

Meanwhile, Channels of communication between India and Pakistan at the level of Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) are still open even though there is heightened tension on the border between the two countries.

The DGMOs do regularly interact with each other on Tuesdays to review the situation on the border.

This was confirmed by a spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry today when asked to comment if India had taken up with Islamabad at the DGMO level the issue of shooting down of a Pakistani unmanned spy plane on Sunday in the Poonch area. She, however, would not know if the issue had been discussed by the DGMOs.

On the question of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s demand that the United Nations Intervene in the Indo-Pak dispute, she said: “We have always stated that Indo-Pak issues could be resolved only through bilateral dialogue on the basis of the Shimla Agreement without recourse to intervention by a third party or international institutions.”

The spokesperson said the government would “very shortly” announce the composition of delegations of MPs to be sent to different parts of the world to explain to the international community India’s stand on the current stand-off with Pakistan. UNI, PTIBack

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