UN Envoy: Poverty drives terrorists to fight in Kashmir
22 March 2002
The Asian Age
New Delhi: The Afghan militants fighting in Jammu and Kashmir may have been driven by economic compulsions rather than a conviction for the cause to fight the Indian security forces, US special presidential envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said on Friday. Mr Khalilzad, an Iranian American, said that improvement in the economic situation of Afghanistan and the complete elimination of the Al Qaeda and Taliban will help in checking the phenomenon. The US envoy said, “The presence of Afghans in Kashmir has been due to economic desperation.” Mr Khalilzad, who arrived here from Kabul, discussed the situation in Afghanistan with the Indian officials. He held meetings with external affairs minister Jaswant Singh, national security adviser Brajesh Mishra, foreign secretary Chokila Iyer and India’s special envoy on Afghanistan S.K. Lambah. “We spoke comprehensively about situation in Afghanistan,” Mr Khalilzad said. He said the interim administration and the US was determined to eliminate all remnants of the Al Qaeda. “There shouldn’t be any reservation or misunderstanding on the issue,” he said. The US envoy praised Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for taking the “difficult” decision to support the international coalition against the Taliban. He said Gen. Musharraf has put Pakistan on the path of non-extremism. The US envoy said that apart from pockets of the Al Qaeda, there were several warlords in the war-ravaged countries who have their own say. He said in some regions there are multiple warlords. The US made it clear that they cannot be allowed to function as it could lead to conflict among themselves and result in civil war. He said that efforts were on to raise a national army of Afghanistan so that the central authority remains powerful. On the International Security Assistance Force, Mr Khalilzad said the force is an answer to a problem. When asked about the role of Iran, which finds place in US President George W. Bush’s axis of evil, Mr Khalilzad said that Iran initially played a positive role in the Afghan crisis but later adopted a negative approach by providing exit routes to Al Qaeda terrorists.