January 2003 News

War Against Terrorism Covers Violence In Kashmir: Blackwill

11 January 2003
The Asian Age

New Delhi: The United States today made it clear that its war against terrorism included 'terrorism against India' and it would continue to prevail upon Pakistan to end 'permanently' the terrorist infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir. The war against terrorism 'will not be won until terrorism against India is ended once and for all,' American Ambassador Robert Blackwill assured a group of Non-Resident-Indians (NRIs) from the US who were here to attend a conference held for the NRIs. Equating the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Centre in New York and the assault on Indian Parliament and Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, he said those who murdered innocents for political motives and who 'seek to bring down the very pillars of our democracy — in New York, in Washington, at the Assembly in Srinagar, at the Parliament in New Delhi' were terrorists. These murderers were not misunderstood idealists. 'They are not disadvantaged dissidents. They are not religious perfectionists. And they are not freedom fighters. They are terrorists, and we should always be sure to call them exactly that,' the American Ambassador said. Rejecting Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s observation that 'freedom fighters' were behind the violence in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Blackwill made it clear that the perpetrators were terrorists and asserted that the war against terrorism included the terrorism against India. Acknowledging that the 'terrible acts of terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir' was an obstacle to finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem, Mr Blackwill asserted that the United States would persist with its efforts to prevail upon Mr Musharraf to 'end permanently' the terrorist infiltration into the State. 'A more normal relationship between India and Pakistan is possible to envision. But the issue of Jammu and Kashmir must be addressed peacefully,' Mr Blackwill told the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) attending the 'praveshi' concerence here. Mr Blackwill, who hosted a reception to the NRIs from the United States, said, 'now is clearly a moment of optimism in Jammu and Kashmir — one that New Delhi, the Mufti Government in Jammu and Kashmir, and the people of the region can collectively translate into tangible political and economic benefits.' However, such efforts would not solve the complex issues of Indo-Pakistan differences, terrorist violence, human rights, and governance that converge in Jammu and Kashmir, he said. 'But they are important steps in the right direction. They will bring Kashmir closer to a solution that will be peaceful and honourable for all sides, one that will permit Kashmiris to live their daily lives in safety, with dignity and hope for the future,' he said. Mr Blackwill, however, admitted that 'sadly, this extraordinary opportunity continues to be narrowed by terrible acts of terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir.' 'The Line of Control cannot be changed by violence. To the contrary, in the absence of a jointly-agreed Indo-Pakistani alternative, everyone should act to ensure the continued sanctity of the LoC,' he said. For its part, the United States would continue to urge President Musharraf to do everything in his power to end permanently the terrorist infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Blackwill assured the NRIs. Mr Blackwill made it clear that the Indo-US relations would not be guided by the Indo-Pak ties. 'Neither the United States nor India want our bilateral relationship to be conducted through the optic of India’s relationship with Pakistan,' he said. The 'transformed' US-India relationship, led by American President George Bush and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, 'is in steep ascent,' he said. The Ambassador pointed out that India had surpassed China to become the second largest country for legal migration to the United States, to be behind only its neighbour Mexico. The rate of acceptance of applications for the American visa from India continued to remain unaltered even in the wake of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre, he said. Each year, more than 18,000 Indians were issued visas to pursue education in the United States, and there were 22 per cent more Indians studying in America this year than in the previous year, he pointed out. Regretting that Indo-US commercial ties remained far below their full potential, Blackwill said two-way trade between them was less than that between the US and Ireland, a country of less than four million people. He said India recently overshot China to become the second largest country for legal migration to the US, only behind Mexico. With the total number of Indian students in the US now more than 66,000, this country has become the number one source of foreign students for American colleges and universities. Although there have been some delays in visa processing since September 11, 2000 when terrorists struck the US, he said for the vast majority of applicants from India, new security measures should have no effect on either their ability to qualify for a visa, or the time it takes to have it issued. He said the overall visa issuance rate for India 'is the same today as was before September 11. And, there are no more long visa lines at US diplomatic facilities in India'.


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