US admits increase in violence in Kashmir
31 August 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Washington DC: The United States today admitted that ''incidents of violence are on the upswing'' in Kashmir and hoped that a peaceful assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir would resume Indo-Pak dialogue. '' It is clear that the incidents of violence are on the upswing,'' US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in an interview to PBS television yesterday. ''The cross-border incursions are up from the end of June,'' he said in reply to a question whether infiltration into India had increased recently. Asked if Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was doing everything possible to stop terrorism in Kashmir, Armitage said ''only President Musharraf and his colleagues know for sure, but we think that he is exerting some efforts.'' On the issue of Pakistani support to terror attack in India, the American diplomat said ''... I don’t want to get into what we know and and what we don’t know. ''... However, there are Jehadis that are outside the control of the Pakistani authority. There are also Jehadis that were already existent in Kashmir. They don’t need to cross the Line of Control to cause trouble.'' He said a bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan was possible if Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir was allowed to be peaceful. ''They (India) have said that if the elections could proceed free of violence from Pakistan, then they would entertain a dialogue. President Musharraf, for his part, told me that his Government’s position was to condemn violence during any electoral season,'' Armitage said. ''India, for her part, is focussed almost entirely on the upcoming Kashmir elections, focussed like a laser on it. And perhaps if those elections are can proceed relatively free of violence, then there can be some sort of dialogue,'' Armitage said. Referring to his comments that he feared violence during the Assembly polls, he said ''well there are plenty of people who don’t want elections to take place. There have been elections in the past that were full of violence. ''And I am fearful that history would repeat itself. I was happy to receive President Musharraf’s assurance that his Government condemned violence. And I hope that these elections will be carried out relatively free of violence.'' ''The militants are trying to bully people into not voting,'' he added. On accusations that the US was ''coddling'' Musharraf for his support to ‘war against terror in Afghanistan’ and that American diplomacy had devalued in the eyes of Indian officials, he said ''well I have heard comments along those lines in the part and it is true that President Musharraf has been extraordinarily helpful in the war against terrorism. ''By the same token, however, we have obtained pledge from President Musharraf about cross-border activities.'' He said both Indian officials and President Musharraf told him that they valued us efforts in defusing Indo-Pak tensions. On Pakistan military ruler’s latest ''power grab'' through constitutional amendments, Armitage said ''I spoke to President Musharraf about the transition back to civilian democracy. It is true that the people of Pakistan have been ill-served by both civilian democratic Governments and military Governments and pointed out that the US view was very important that President Musharraf be able to show a return to civilian controlled democracy and a path to that democarcy.''