India Seeks UK Help On Kashmir
16 June 2003
London: India's Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani has called on the UK Government to put more pressure on Pakistan to end cross-border militancy in Kashmir. In a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Advani expressed India's frustration at what Delhi sees as a dismal lack of progress on the issue. India's possible contribution to an international peace-keeping force in Iraq was also high on the agenda. Mr Advani came to London fresh from meetings in Washington. The topics he discussed with Mr Blair seemed to mirror his talks with US leaders. Assurances India is keen to drive home its frustration with Pakistan and what Delhi sees as unfulfilled promises. India reduced tensions with Pakistan last year on the strength of assurances from Britain and the US that promises by President Musharraf were sincere. Mr Musharraf promised he would crack down on cross-border militants. But Delhi says little has been done. It says infiltrations into Indian Kashmir still have not been stopped and there are still militant training camps in Pakistan. Britain, like the US, does speak out to condemn terrorism - but also wants to tread diplomatically and avoid alienating Pakistan. Mr Advani may be in a good position to strike a deal. Delegation Britain and the US want India to contribute to an international peace-keeping force in Iraq. As Mr Advani met Mr Blair, a delegation from the Pentagon was arriving in Delhi to press their case. India might see a generous offer of help as an important bargaining chip in the long running diplomatic battle with Pakistan. But it might also be hard to sell to the Indian public. Opinion in India was strongly against the US-led action on Iraq - which many saw as an act of US high-handedness. Iraq and India were traditionally allies - and many in India felt military action could only be justified with a UN mandate.