March 2002 News

Ending Pak support to ultras key to peace: US body

4 March 2002
The Tribune
Vasantha Arora

Washington: Ending Islamabad-backed support for armed militancy in Kashmir is the key to reducing the danger of war between India and Pakistan, says a leading American think tank. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), however, says such a measure would be difficult to implement for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. The CSIS also points out in its journal South Asia Monitor that Kashmir and Afghanistan are the two major issues that could potentially deal a setback to bilateral ties between Islamabad and Washington. The article “High Stakes for USA and Pakistan” is written by former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Teresita Schaffer and researcher Richa Gulati. It points out that the massive Indian and Pakistani troop deployment along their border means the situation could escalate very fast. To prevent this from spiralling into a war and eliminating the risk of a nuclear confrontation, “Pakistan has to give up its role in supporting organisations that commit violence in India” and then start a dialogue with India to settle the differences between the two South Asian rivals. “Ending Pakistan-based support for armed militancy in Kashmir” will be a more painful process for Musharraf than confronting militants domestically, but in practice delinking these two theatres of operation may have become impossible. “It may not be easy to keep U.S. and Pakistani policies in harmony. The limits of Pakistan’s new policy toward militants and toward Kashmir will not be clear until winter ends and the passes into Kashmir open,” it says. The report goes on to claim that New Delhi is ready to accept a discreet U.S. role in mediation talks over Kashmir given the vast improvement in its relations with Washington. The USA did not accept Musharraf’s appeal for mediation, but President George Bush’s statement that the USA wanted to help both sides to talk directly on the issue suggested a more active diplomatic posture than it has taken in the past. It says the news of reporter Daniel Pearl’s murder has only shown the difficulty of Musharraf bringing militant organisations under control. The CSIS has described as “disturbing” the way Pakistan kept the USA in the dark about the surrender of Omar Saeed Sheikh, one of Pearl’s kidnappers, for a full week and how it was made public after Musharraf arrived in Washington.


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