- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 7, 2001

India's prime minister arrives today in Washington, where he will seek to strengthen ties with the United States but faces increasing pressure to rein in his security forces in Kashmir.
Pakistan accused India yesterday of firing a heavy artillery and mortar barrage at civilian targets across the Neelam River in disputed Kashmir.
India replied that this was only a continuation of artillery shelling, aimed at stopping Islamist infiltrators from Pakistan that began Oct. 15.
India and Pakistan are the only nuclear-armed countries in the world that are also fighting an active conventional war.
Pakistan has moved a force of 60,000 troops close to the Indian border in recent days, Indian intelligence sources said.
But the troops are too spread out to indicate a threat of war, Indian and U.S. officials said. Both country's leaders are coming to the United States for the U.N. General Assembly this weekend and to meet with President Bush.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to Washington for a summit meeting with Mr. Bush Friday is aimed at cementing stronger ties between Washington and New Delhi, according to Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh.
"The visit is important not just in light of September 11 but in terms of the new relationship" between India and the United States in recent years, said Mr. Mansingh at a luncheon with editors and reporters at The Washington times last week.
India is upset that since September 11 the United States has intensified cooperation with Pakistan and dropped sanctions on a country that India believes is a sponsor of terrorism in Kashmir, said a State Department source, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The State Department, on the other hand, has been instructed to firmly ask India during the visit this week not to provoke Pakistan over Kashmir.
India is much the same position as Israel during the war on terrorism. Both countries are under attack by Islamic suicide bombers supported by hostile neighbors.
And both India and Israel have offered full cooperation to Washington. But both have been told to be low key and quiet about it to avoid inflaming the Muslim extremists in the streets of America's Muslim allies in the anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan.
"We have given assurances we will not complicate matters while military operations take place in the region," said Mr. Mansingh.
India has offered full use of its ports and airports to U.S. warplanes and ships, but so far only a few U.S. planes have stopped for refueling, said a South Asian intelligence source. India has also been shipping, for several years, weapons and cash to the Northern Alliance Afghan rebels fighting against the Taliban regime.
The war on terrorism, however, is only temporarily overshadowing a U.S. strategic shift toward India that began under the Clinton administration.
"This administration is likely to go further than the previous administration," said the ambassador.
India is hoping to be allowed to buy artillery-locating radar, jet fighter-bombers and other weapons, he said.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday in New Delhi that the two countries were planning closer military cooperation and possibly U.S. weapons sales to India.
Although originally aimed at beefing up commercial ties, counterbalancing China and placing a security blanket over India's nuclear-weapons program, the relationship has been cast in a new light by the September 11 attacks.
Pakistan, which was eclipsed by India's new friendship with Washington, dropped support for the Taliban and allowed U.S. forces to use Pakistani airspace and air bases against Afghanistan. Subsequently, the United States offered hundred of millions of dollars in aid.
India has not seen any reduction in cross-border infiltration or any reduction in Pakistani support for terrorist groups since September 11, said the Indian ambassador.
Pakistani officials say the fighters in Kashmir are indigenous Kashmiris fighting a war of liberation to get rid of Indian rule.
They receive only moral and political support, Pakistan says.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide