Friday, September 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Rein in Pak
Time for PM to tell Bush
Hari Jaisingh

New York, September 12
Will Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee be able to extract a credible American response to India’s on-going problems with Pakistan, especially with regard to its sponsorship of terrorist activities in Kashmir even during the forthcoming critical weeks of elections there? A lot depends on the outcome of the Indian leader’s talks with President George Bush later in the day.

A day after the memorial services, bagpipe processions, lighting of candles and choirs singing Mozart’s Requiem in memory of those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the general mood here is of grief and sorrow.

This certainly provides an occasion to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to remind US President George Bush of the Indian sufferings in Jammu and Kashmir at the hands of Islamabad-sponsored massacre of civilians during the past 13 years.

The lives of thousands of innocent citizens have been lost in dastardly attacks by foreign mercenaries and armed militant groups sent by Pakistan from across the border.

There has been no let-up in the level of infiltration by the “jehadi” groups in the valley despite repeated US warnings to General Pervez Musharraf who is also currently in New York.

Even at the end of his meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told reporters in Washington: “I reaffirmed to the Minister that we will continue to press the Pakistan government to do everything possible to stop cross-border infiltration.”

Mr Powell added: “We have spoken to the Pakistanis about not interfering in any way with the Indian elections in Kashmir which we expect will be free and fair”.

India’s diplomatic sources here are not sure of Pakistan’s response. In fact, Mr Sinha has accused the Pakistani army of providing “covering fire” to militants entering Kashmir apart from providing funding and training.

Ironically, Pakistani spokesman in Washington Asad Hayauddin has continued to quote President Musharraf that “there is nothing going on on the Line of Control”.

The problem before the Indian leaders is: If America is unable to restrain Pakistan from its proxy war, then what sorts of options New Delhi should go in for?

The answer is not easy since the US leadership is very much sold out to the Musharraf line of thinking. It sees in the Pakistani dictator its last hope in “eliminating” the legacy of Bin Laden and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, including the USA.

In fact, the US administration has reportedly opened a dialogue with Pakistan for military aid, especially to meet its hardware needs in certain strategic areas.

According to confirmed information available here, the Pentagon has already agreed to subsidise military sales to Islamabad totalling $ 230 million. This includes C-130 military transport aircraft.

General Musharraf is likely to seek certain sophisticated military hardware items. His priorities are said to be for nuclear-capable F-16 fighter aircraft, heavy artillery, Cobra attack helicopters, etc.

The Pentagon is all for increased response to Pakistan. It feels that liberal military assistance is the only way “to cement Pakistani cooperation against Al-Qaida”.

What the Bush administration seems to be forgetting is its elementary lessons from US-Pakistan military history of betrayal and intrigues written in blood in war-ravaged Afghanistan as well as in the valley and high slopes of India’s Jammu and Kashmir.

The US Administration can do itself a great service if it reflects on the latest observations of Mr Selig S. Harrison in The Christian Science Monitor: “Whatever help Pakistan can provide in the short run is overshadowed by the compelling long-term US interest in improving relations with India, a rising economic and military power that will be much more important to the USA than Pakistan long after Al-Qaida has dropped from the headlines.”

Mr Harrison is Director of the Asia Programme at the Center for International Policy and a senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The trouble with the Bush administration is that it lacks a vision for tomorrow. It seems to have become a prisoner of its own misconcepts and obsessions of the Cold War era.


PM meets kin of Indian 9/11 victims

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee with family members of Indians
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee with family members of Indians who were killed in the September 11 attacks last year, in New York on Wednesday. — PTI photo

New York, September 12
A visibly moved Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee yesterday had an emotional meeting with Indian families who lost their relatives in the September 11 terror attacks last year. 

Some of them broke down as they sat next to Mr Vajpayee and narrated to him the loss of a husband, a father, a son or a daughter. 

The families told the Prime Minister about the horrors of the terror strikes and how they were trying to cope with the consequences. Mr Vajpayee told them that September 11 would always be remembered as the day on which terrorists brought the issue of terrorism to the consciousness of the world.

“India had been a target of terrorism for long but the world was not ready to listen to us as we warned other nations of the danger,” the Prime Minister said.

At least 20 members of families of victims met Mr Vajpayee in his hotel. A small boy drew a lot of attention as he recited a poem in honour of Bharat Mata and saluted smartly.

Mr Vajpayee said he remembered telling Americans during a visit to the UN that they must realise that terrorism was a danger not only to India but to the world but no one listened.

One prominent American told me that terrorist targets were far away from the USA and they posed no danger in America.

Consul-General Pramatesh Rath told the Prime Minister that it was difficult to get an exact figure of Indian Americans and people with Indian passports who died in the World Trade Center towers in the wake of the attacks.

Available figures showed that there were 117 persons of Indian origin among the dead, of whom 17 were Indian passport holders, he said.

Some of the family members of victims who met Mr Vajpayee came from India.

Some families which failed to get bodies of their lost ones told Mr Vajpayee that they sprinkled Ganga water at the site of the destroyed towers in the hope that the departed souls would rest in peace. PTI


PM meets Bush

New York, September 12
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and US President George Bush today expressed their determination to further strengthen their strategic Indo-US framework of bilateral relations and agreed to cooperate in the areas of space, energy, hi-technology, commerce and science.

This was the outcome of a 35-minute meeting between the two leaders held at the US President Mission to the United Nations, according to Nirupama Rao, spokeswoman for the External Affairs, Ministry. UNIBack


Pervez does India bashing
Tribune News Service

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf addresses the UN General Assembly
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf addresses the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday. 
— Reuters photo

United Nations, September 12
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in a frontal attack against India in yet another attempt to internationalise the Kashmir issue maintained that sustainable peace in South Asia can only be achieved with the resolution of the Kashmir problem requiring nuclear restraint and ensuring conventional arms balance between the two neighbours. Sustainable nuclear restraint is imperative for both the countries.

Addressing the UN General Assembly here today, General Musharraf poured venom against India and the BJP-led NDA government’s endeavour to go through with the democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir. He said India’s belligerence in its Hindu extremism had affected the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and even the untouchable Hindus.

He accused India of tarnishing the image of Pakistan with a brush of terrorism and to drive a wedge between Islamabad and its coalition partners in the fight against terrorism.

General Musharraf sought to describe Islamabad’s cross-border terrorism as a conflict being waged by Kashmiris. He said India’s plan of holding Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir would be rigged. He insisted that the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be allowed to exercise their rights in accordance with the resolution of the United Nations.

In the diatribe against India, General Musharraf underlined the need for conciliation as the only way out against radicalism and violence. He tried to impress upon the 190-member Assembly that Pakistan was heading towards true democracy while debunking the democratic process currently under way in Jammu and Kashmir.

General Musharraf categorically told the UNGA that it would not start a conflict with India as it was acutely aware that both countries were nuclear weapons state. He sought mutual withdrawal of the forward deployment of forces by both the countries and the observance of a ceasefire in Kashmir. He accused India of unleashing a reign of terror against the people of Kashmir.

In the same vein, he emphasised that the dialogue must be resumed between India and Pakistan and drew pointed attention to the Indo-Pak Summit in Agra at the initiative of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

On the Kashmir issue, General Musharraf said Kashmiris should be allowed to hold discussions on both sides.

Disturbed by what he described as India’s belligerence towards Pakistan, General Musharraf claimed that Hindu extremist organisations were in the forefront of targeting minorities like Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and even untouchable Hindus. He said Pakistan stoutly opposed the Hindu extremism in the same manner as it opposed terrorism.

He claimed that Pakistan was a tolerant Islamic nation and desired peace in South Asia.

General Musharraf sought to bring home the point that Pakistan has made major sacrifices in the war against international terrorism. “We have interdicted infiltration by the Al-Qaida into Pakistan. We have also arrested and deported foreign terrorists from our territory.”

General Musharraf said there was an imperative need for a sustained dialogue between Islamic countries and western nations to remove the “wheel of ignorance and prejudice”. Pakistan had consistantly condemned any act of terrorism. He was happy about the positive change in Afghanistan and Pakistan playing the role of a frontline state in the fight against international terrorism.  


Terrorist fear stalks USA
Looking beyond Sept 11 attacks
Hari Jaisingh

Coast Guard officers check a boat on the East River
Coast Guard officers check a boat on the East River next to the United Nations complex prior to the General Assembly meeting starting in New York on Thursday. — Reuters photo

New York, September 12
Yet another September 11 passed into history, leaving the Americans at the crossroads. They are not yet sure what lies ahead as they seem to be moving from one crisis to another of unknown dimensions.

Not that America’s position as super power is threatened. Basically it remains as formidable and strong as ever. What has made a difference in the past one year is its glaring vulnerability. This has injected an element of fear and uncertainty about everything that the USA has stood for and the symbols and values it has believed in.

Fear has gripped the system so much that even a telephonic bomb threat to a bank leads to the closure of banking units. A threat from an Al-Qaida operative in custody made President Bush order the closure of US embassies abroad on the occasion of the September 11 anniversary.

The main American problem today is how to come to grips with threats from Islamic terrorist groups, especially the Al-Qaida outfit.

Perhaps, the Americans have to learn a lesson or two from the Indians who have learnt to live with terrorism. Amidst occasional terrorist attacks in Kashmir, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other parts of the country life moves on with the continuing security operations. Indeed, it is always “business as usual” within an hour or so of terrorist strikes.

It will take time before the Americans come to terms with the harsh realities.

It is certainly a painful exercise as even the meaning of freedom and liberty, as the people here understand, is undergoing a change in the name of what is officially termed as security compulsions. This will apparently change the attitudes and lifestyle of the Americans quite substantially.

What is worrying a section of the US intelligentsia is whether America will be able to retain its global primacy as a defender of freedom, human rights and democratic standards in the months and years to come.

The period ahead is indeed of agonising adjustments with ground realities. A lot will depend on how the US leadership conducts its domestic and global affairs.

For the present, there is plenty of goodwill for the people of America. This was very much visible yesterday at Battery Park here where world leaders, including Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, were present in large numbers to light the eternal flame at “The Sphere”, the sculpture that once stood in the plaza at the World Trade Center and is now part of a temporary memorial in the park at the southern tip of Manhattan.

Meanwhile, President Bush’s presence at Ground Zero has had quite an electrifying effect as he freely mingled with the families that lost their near and dear ones in the harrowing terrorist attacks of September 11.

His performance was touchingly humane. This was an excellent show — dignified and touching.


Confront Saddam, Bush tells UN

US President George W. Bush addresses
US President George W. Bush addresses the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday. 
— Reuters photo

United Nations, September 12
Making a strong bid for international support to his plans for an attack on Iraq, US President George W. Bush today demanded that the UN confront Saddam Hussein “if it wants to survive” and warned that inaction would lead to its losing relevance.

“Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave and gathering danger” to the world and if he was allowed to develop nuclear weapons, the international community’s ability to confront him “will narrow,” Mr Bush said in his address to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session shortly after its inauguration.

He warned that “if the UN does not act, it will become irrelevant.” PTI


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