Sunday, February 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Pak: PoK not to be used for terrorism
Advani's query made Powell extract promise
Hari Jaisingh

NEW DELHI: President Pervez Musharraf is committed to not using Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for terrorist activity. Pakistan's undertaking in this regard was specifically conveyed to US Secretary of State Colin Powell following Home Minister L.K. Advani's query whether the Pakistani General's speech of January 12 not to use terrorism for the Kashmir cause included PoK.

"General Powell rang up General Musharraf and raised this issue. President Musharraf replied in the affirmative," Mr L.K. Advani revealed this in the course of a 40- minute wide-ranging conversation in his North Block office on Friday afternoon.

It was a more confident and clear-headed Union Home Minister I met in his office this time than on the last occasion a few months ago.

Perhaps his successful Washington visit last month has made him look a few inches taller politically. He unfolded candidly America's perception of India and Pakistan as well as India's hopes and fears based on its own bitter experience of terrorism from across the border.

"There is widespread Indian cynicism about American intentions and understandably so. This is a hangover of the Cold War, past ideological tilts and prejudices. But those old perceptions are changing to the advantage of this country," Mr Advani asserted.

"I visited the USA officially after 10 years. I know what I am talking about after my close interaction with five-six top functionaries of the USA, including President Bush," he stated.

Drawing a contrast between the American perception of Pakistan and the Indian assessment, Mr Advani said that US policy-makers "think that President Pervez Musharraf has changed and that he would deliver the goods during the global fight against terrorism in Afghanistan."

To the specific query whether Mr Advani shared this view, the Home Minister said without mincing words, "the change has not yet come about, and we are monitoring trends and events closely and in good faith. Nothing is being done under American pressure. In any case, there is no need for such pressure tactics since the Americans understand our problems and compulsions very clearly.

"Our objective is the same, though the approach to handling the problem of terrorism varies," Mr Advani said.

"We are not worried about terrorist organisations. We can take care of them. Our main concern is the (Pakistan) support to terrorism, funding of terrorist outfits and cross-border terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country," Mr Advani remarked and added: "We have conveyed specific areas of concern to the Americans. We want Islamabad to hand over the terrorists wanted in this country for their crimes."

To the specific question whether Mr Advani has noticed any change in Pakistan's attitude after the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, the response from the Home Minister was an emphatic "no". Mr Advani is, however, not disheartened. Nor does he doubt America's intentions.

"The Americans are going about the job in a phased manner. President Bush is clear about his targets in the global fight against terrorism. Of course, his first priority is to delink Pakistan from the Taliban and then move on to other areas," Mr Advani remarked.

He admitted that the Americans are baffled at the Indian people's reservation on their intentions on terrorism, especially in the light of the support General Musharraf is getting from US policy-makers, President Bush included.

"I myself hailed President Musharraf's January 12 speech as path-breaking. But then we have to judge everything on the touchstone of action," the Home Minister declared.

He dismissed the suggestion that the build-up on the border was being done with an eye on the elections in UP and Punjab. "This allegation has no substance. You take my word. The Americans understand our compulsions. There is no pressure this way or that way. In fact, Gen Powell simply asked me whether the conflict could help. I said, 'We know risks are part of a conflict. So, General Powell's question was simple: 'Would you like to take General Musharraf off the hook?'

Mr Advani referred to the dialogue in the context that a conflict between India and Pakistan would dilute General Musharraf's role in combating terrorism and would give him an excuse to go slow on the agenda set for him by the USA and its allies.

"We understand all this and hence this wait and watch. After all, we want peace with Pakistan and that is why Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee took a number of peace initiatives with Pakistan. The Americans understand what is what and who is what," Mr Advani pointed out.

The Home Minister underlined the need for firmness and resolve in facing terrorism. He does not think the USA has any preconceived views on Kashmir.

"We know what we want. And the Americans have begun to understand and appreciate our problem. For them the priority is terrorism, and not Kashmir. So is our case," Mr Advani stated.

On internal house-keeping, Mr Advani expressed concern at the Kolkata American Center incident. "If we say anything then we are accused of being communal. But let the ground realities speak for themselves. I am sure West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya must be a worried man. He understands the problem," Mr Advani observed.

The Union Home Minister also expressed unhappiness at the non-utilisation of funds given to the states for modernisation of the police force. In West Bengal, only 15 to 17 per cent of the funds have been utilised for buying advanced weapons for the police. "I have now decided to supply the states modern weapons for the police instead of giving them money, "he stated.

The Home Minister remained unperturbed by developments on the Ayodhya temple issue. "We shall resolve the matter. I am sure about this. The other day some Muslim leaders came to me and suggested some solution. My response is: work out among yourself. We shall respond," he said.Back


Dawood’s plot to kill Advani

New Delhi, February 2
The Dubai-based underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his henchman Chhota Shakeel are alleged to have hatched a conspiracy to assassinate Home Minister L.K. Advani, a private television network said here today.

Chhota Shakeel had plotted to kill Mr Advani by hiring a person from the underworld who was lying low for sometime, “Aaj Tak” quoting an intelligence report said.

Police has already arrested six persons after arresting one Akbar from Bangalore who spilled the beans for Chhota Shakeel’s plan of carrying out the attack.

Mr Advani’s security has already been beefed up amidst reports that ISI sponsored militant outfits had also planned to target the Home Minister. PTI

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