Wednesday, September 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


S P E C I A L  E D I T O R I A L

PMs visit a solidarity symbol against terror
Hari Jaisingh

The presence of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee among the world dignitaries and millions of people drawn from different nationalities is seen among friendly circles here as India's solidarity with America's campaign against terrorism.

Of course, the perspective on terrorism between the world's most vibrant democracies varies. So does their response. Still, the two countries have come a long way from the Cold War time of suspicion and reservation.

Certain areas of suspicion remain, but the two countries are now engaged in an active dialogue to consolidate their achievements in the areas of "special relationship". Whether this "special relationship" will take the shape of a strategic partnership or not in future depends on how the Americans respond to Indian sensitivities in the subcontinent, especially in respect of Pakistan's hostility towards India.

During his scheduled meeting with President Bush on September 12, Mr Vajpayee will have wide-ranging talks on bilateral and related matters of India's concern.

The Prime Minister in a statement hoped that the existing bilateral cooperation "will be carried forward" during his discussions with President Bush. General Pervez Musharraf's Pakistan is expected to figure prominently during their deliberations.

The Pakistan President is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on September 12, one day before Mr Vajpayee's speech to the world body.

From all accounts and amidst various moves and counter-moves, the Kashmir question has reached a critical stage. America no longer sees it in isolation. It considers a Kashmir solution to be crucial in its fight against global terrorism. The US Administration's frustration, however, emanates from its own policy postures towards Pakistan.

First, the US establishment looks fully committed to General Musharraf's continuity for his "services" rendered for overthrowing the Taliban regime in Kabul.

Second, Washington feels that the ouster of the Pakistani dictator would give a boost to the jehadis which, in turn, would undo the American success in the region.

Three, ironically enough, some US officials express their disgust at General Musharraf's failure to put an end to cross-border terrorism.

What does this imply to India? "Well, the answer is simple. We will have to manage things ourselves. And we will do so," Mr Brajesh Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and National Security Adviser, said during the course of a chat with media persons in the Prime Minister's special flight. He also expects the Indo-Pak crisis to be "hot" in the coming weeks in view of the Jammu and Kashmir poll as well as Pakistan's own "elections".

Meanwhile, both Mr Vajpayee and General Musharraf will draw considerable attention of South Asia watchers here amidst memorial services and special functions being held in honour of the victims of the September 11 tragedy when the terrorists brutally attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington. It is a grim reminder to the international community of the danger posed by terrorism.

But beyond the memorial services, the obsession of President Bush's regime today is President Saddam Hussein's Iraq, seen as part of global terrorism.

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