9th October 1997
Express News Service
WASHINGTON/NEW DELHI: The naming of the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Ansar by the Clinton Administration is a 30-strong list of terrorist groups worldwide is a vindication of India's stand that it is a victim of cross-border terrorism, India officials here say.
The US State Department on Wednesday officially notified 30 terrorist groups, including the Harkat-ul-Ansar, Hazbullah, LTTE, and several West Asian outfits, in a bid to choke money and material support for them in the United States. Harkat was on the US hit list following the kidnapping in Kashmir of two Americans, one of whom is still missing.
In New Delhi, the Government today welcomed the US decision to band the Harkat; saying is was a "recognition" of the realities on the ground. Officials in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the US decision could be construed to mean and "indictment of Pakistan," since that country had been systematically providing it physical resources to carry out its campaign of terror in Kashmir.
The decision comes a week before the powerful US undersecretary of state for political affairs Thomas Pickering arrives in India for a two-day visit.
Pakistan to disband the offices, training camps and cadres of the Harkat and other terrorist organisations based in Pakistan. The significance of the ban, however seems to be more psychological, rather than actual. The sources of the Harkat's foreign funds do not lie in the US and its members are unlikely to visit that country to either carry out acts of terror or solicit funding.
Indian officials in Washington said the US States Department had neither sought any inputs form the Indian government (nor had any been offered) in its decision to name the Harkat and LTTE "They have first looked at their own interest and not necessarily ours in putting together the list. That's quite understandable for starters, an Indian official said.
Although Indian officials were pleased that Washington was finally cracking down on international terrorism after many years of complacency, the satisfaction is tinged with doubts about the criteria used by the state Department which allowed several similar terrorist groups to escape to net, US officials said though that other groups remained under consideration for inclusion in the list and the 30 designated outfits were named on the basis of an administrative record that could withstand judicial scrutiny.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday identified the 30 terrorist groups under a 1996 anti-terrorism law, which aims to "make the US fully a no-support-for-terrorism, zone".
The law makes it an offence for anyone to provide funds of material support to the named groups.
It also denies US visas to "aliens abroad who are members of representatives" of the groups, and requires US financial institutions to block funds under their control that belongs to the group.
The Clinton Administration issued the list after pressure from congress, which voted to cut state Department spending by $ 7 million if it did not blacklist terrorist groups.
Legislators suggested the State Department was chary of singling out certain groups. The designations, which expire in two years unless renewed, are subject to judicial review.
The law also allows groups to be added to the list at any time following a decision by the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Treasury.
In a statement following the naming of the terrorist groups, President Clinton said, "Today's action sends a clear message: The path to change is through dialogue and open deliberations, not violence and hatred."
"Now we will work to uncover those who raise money for terrorist groups in America and encourage our friends and allies to do the same within their own borders," Clinton said.
Meanwhile in Islamabad, the Pakistani foreign office rejected the US charge that the Harkat-ul-Ansar was based in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan, saying instead that it was based in Kashmir, reports Kamal Siddiqui.
"It is based where the resistance is, it is based where the need is," said the Pakistani official.
Denial of visa
Some Indian politicians and public personalities may be denied visas to the United States because of their association with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) diplomatic sources in Colombo told UNI today. Some Tamil Nadu politicians like P Nedumaran, V Gopalasami, K Ramdoss and George Fernandes, MP some judges lawyers writers and journalists who have in the past attended conferences organised by the LTTE in support of their separatist causes in Sri Lanka may all face the punitive fall-out of the US action, they added.