Kashmir issue affecting region's growth: Clinton
15 April 2000
Washington DC: The U.S. President, Mr. Bill Clinton, has reiterated that if the conflict over Kashmir was resolved between India and Pakistan, there was no limit to the potential of South Asia. Speaking at a fund-raising function in Atlanta - where the audience included a number of Pakistani Americans and several Sikhs - he said the region was being kept back from the modern world ''by this ancient tension''. ''The situation in Kashmir is interesting from an American point of view for the following reason. Indian Americans and Pakistani Americans, of the 200 ethnic groups that exist in America today, rank in the top 10 in per capita income and education. Obviously if the difficulties over Kashmir could be resolved, people from South Asia would explode. There is literally no limit to the potential of the life that could be had there,'' Mr. Clinton said at the fund-raising luncheon organised for the Democratic member in Congress, Ms. Cynthia McKinney, on Friday. ''But they are sort of kept back from the modern world by this ancient tension - or at least the tension that grew out of the founding of the nations of India and Pakistan. I say that to make this point only - I''m basically, you know, a very optimistic person. And I always have been, and I remain so today,'' he said. The President had referred to his trip to South Asia on many occasions, especially on the different facets of his visit to India. On Friday he again referred to the warm reception he received in a village in Rajasthan. ''... You may have seen the pictures on television of me dancing with the village women and they were pelting me with flowers. It''s better than other things I could be pelted with,'' he said amid laughter. The President soon turned to another incident during his trip to India - the massacre of Sikhs in Kashmir. ''The most heartbreaking thing that happened on my trip to the Indian sub- continent is that 35 Sikhs were murdered in Kashmir. And I''m sure they were murdered because I was there. Those people lost their lives because I went to India and Pakistan,'' the President said. ''And the people who don''t want their turmoil to be eased used my trip there as a pretext to highlight the difficulties. And somebody, we don''t know who, killed 35 perfectly innocent people - who, I might add, had never before been targeted in all the conflicts in Kashmir,'' Mr. Clinton said.