India gives US-bound Pervez a wake-up call
11 February 2002
New Delhi: ON the eve of General Pervez Musharraf’s meeting with President George Bush in Washington on Wednesday, India today stepped up pressure on Islamabad. It formally asked Pakistan to take a leaf out of the UAE book and hand over the criminals on its most wanted list to New Delhi. Even as the Ministry of External Affairs continued to laud Abu Dhabi’s act of deporting Aftab Ansari to India, joint secretary Arun Singh in the MEA summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner Jaleel Gilani and issued him a verbal demarche, demanding that Islamabad take action on the Indian list of criminals residing in Pakistan. New Delhi’s hand was strengthened in Mumbai with US deputy treasury secretary Kenneth Dam rejecting any link between the Indian government and the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, as alleged by Musharraf a few days ago. In fact, US media reports say that US officials are annoyed over such reckless charges being made by Pakistan which could lead to an escalation in the tension between the two countries. ‘‘We do not believe that the Indian government is involved in the kidnapping...I am surprised. It could be possible that some terrorist from India may have contacted others on Pakistani soil,’’ said Dam. Today’s demarche to Gilani is the third since December 31, when New Delhi first issued its most wanted list of terrorists and criminals and demanded that Islamabad take action. On January 18, the government provided additional information on the list. New Delhi, which has linked the revocation of its diplomatic measures against Pakistan — reopening the air, road and rail links and the return of the Indian high commissioner to Pakistan — with action on the Indian list of 20 criminals, now hopes that President Bush will increase the pressure on Musharraf during his meeting with the general. Washington has already told New Delhi that it has requested Islamabad to end infiltration across the Line of Control into India, and that, indeed, Musharraf had sent such an order within a week of his January 12 address to his nation. With the ‘‘comfort level’’ between New Delhi and Washington having reached considerable proportions, Indian agencies investigating Aftab Ansari and his Pakistani links are said to be in direct contact with their US counterparts. Clearly, Washington has played a key, if indirect role in persuading the UAE authorities to hand over terrorist suspects to their country of origin, sources here said. Not only was FBI director Robert Muller in Dubai on his way out of India, but the co-chairperson of the Indo-US joint working group on counter-terrorism, Francis Taylor, flew into New Delhi in the third week of January, via Dubai. But the officials also insisted that it was the UAE, one of only three countries to recognise the Taliban before September 11, which had to be lauded for its decision to deport Ansari to India. MEA spokesperson Nirupama Rao, recording the UAE’s contribution, pointed out that Abu Dhabi had chosen to disregard the lengthy process of extradition. Moreover, she added, international law did not allow even ‘‘safe haven for terrorism’’, so if Pakistan was sincere, it must hand over the persons wanted by India.