Monday, February 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India, Pak clash at security meeting

India's National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra share a laugh with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar
India's National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra (R) share a laugh with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar during the 38th Munich Conference on Security Policy in a Munich hotel on Sunday. Reuters photo

Frankfurt, February 3
India and Pakistan traded charges against each other at an international meeting in Munich to which both were invited in the hope they will meet on the sidelines to resolve their differences.

But Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and Indian National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra ended up attacking each other, particularly over the five-decade-old dispute between the two countries over Jammu and Kashmir.

In the process, both ignored a plea by Horst Teltschick, a former security adviser to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, to start a dialogue on the sidelines of the International Security Conference.

But basking in the international limelight, with the television  cameras focused on them and an audience comprising of foreign and defence ministers and security experts from leading countries, Mr Sattar and Mr Mishra could only quarrel. Mr Sattar criticised the missile tests by India as "unwise and unnecessary", and accused New Delhi of using terrorism as an excuse to suppress the "legitimate movement for greater self-determination" in Kashmir.

He spoke of torture, arbitrary arrests and unprovoked firing by Indian security forces in Kashmir, where a separatist campaign raging since 1989 has left thousands dead. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the guerrillas.

Mr Mishra, in turn, urged the democratic countries to conduct a "global and extensive" campaign against every form of terrorism, and said the West could not battle terrorism in one region and turn its back on it in another.

And in remarks clearly aimed against Pakistan, he wanted the world to ask how and where a large number of Taliban and Al-Qaida fighters escaped to following the US bombings in Afghanistan.

He said India would take steps to pull back its troops from the border with Pakistan only after it saw tangible evidence of a reduction in terrorism against India sponsored by Islamabad.

He flayed Pakistan for dubbing terrorists in Kashmir as "freedom fighters", and said terrorism had its roots in "militaristic adventurism and religious extremism, sponsored by totalitarian regime".

Some participants privately questioned the wisdom of inviting Pakistan to the conference, given its rivalry with India and its known stand on Kashmir. Meetings where both India and Pakistan are invited invariably turn into a verbal brawl, a German official said.

Pakistan, which was not a participant in the conference last year, was invited this time because of the West's anti-terrorism coalition in which Islamabad has taken the role of a frontline state. The organisers had hoped that both Indian and Pakistani representatives would avail of their presence in Munich to meet on the sidelines, an objective which many feel may not be realised after their verbal attacks against each other. IANSBack

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