- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

President Bush yesterday called for a cease-fire in Kashmir, where Indian forces shelled Pakistani bases just as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell arrived in a bid to stop the conflict from complicating U.S. strikes against the Taliban.
"It is very important that India and Pakistan stand down during our activities in Afghanistan and, for that matter, forever," Mr. Bush said in the Rose Garden. "We are mindful that activities around Kashmir could create issues in that part of the region, particularly as we're conducting our operations in Afghanistan."
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said she and the president and Mr. Powell urged the leaders of India and Pakistan just before the United States began bombing Afghanistan to refrain from fighting over the disputed, mostly Muslim region of Kashmir.
"I can tell you there were quite a few phone calls as we got ready for military action," Miss Rice told reporters yesterday. "There is a lot of diplomatic infrastructure in place to try to damp this down."
Mr. Powell departed Washington on Sunday with the "express purpose" of reminding leaders in Islamabad and New Delhi of "the importance of not having a flare-up in Kashmir," Miss Rice said.
But just such a flare-up occurred yesterday when Indian forces shelled Pakistani military bases across the cease-fire line in Kashmir, wiping out 11 posts, killing one person and injuring 25. The Indians used mortars, rockets, artillery, grenade launchers and machine guns in the heaviest fighting along the disputed border in 10 months.
The White House is alarmed that fighting has broken out between India and Pakistan, both of which possess nuclear weapons, just as the United States has enlisted Pakistan in the search-and-destroy mission against Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan has agreed to help, but retains diplomatic ties with the Taliban and is struggling to contain anti-American sentiment within its own borders.
The violence in Kashmir lent new urgency to Mr. Powell's journey and underscored the administration's broader effort to prevent the region from becoming destabilized by the U.S. offensive.
To that end, Miss Rice yesterday granted an interview to Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based TV station that reaches 40 million Arabs. The interviewer pointed out that while many Arab and Muslim governments support the president's war against terrorism, ordinary citizens of those nations do not.
"We care very much also about the people of the Middle East, the Arab populations," Miss Rice replied. "We're trying to do a better job in getting that message out to people. We want it to be very clear that the war on terrorism is not a war against Islam."
Mr. Bush will reiterate that theme later this week when he meets with leaders of 20 nations, including some with large Islamic populations, during an economic summit in Shanghai. Although some White House officials urged the president not to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, Mr. Bush decided to go anyway.
"Despite the press of the urgent business that we have in the war against terrorism, the president feels that this is an extremely important trip and an extremely important time to take this trip," Miss Rice said. "He will continue to build the coalition in the war on terrorism, enlisting Pacific Rim leaders in his counterterrorism efforts."
During the summit, Mr. Bush will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is engaged in a bloody, ongoing struggle with separatists in Chechnya. When Moscow agreed to help Washington in the war against terrorism, the White House began downplaying Russia's human rights abuses in Chechnya and began emphasizing the influence of al Qaeda on the separatists.
Miss Rice said yesterday that while the president will discuss "human rights" and "minority rights issues" with Mr. Putin, he will also urge the "legitimate Chechnyan leadership to make sure there are not international terrorists among them."
The president will also meet with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, president of the Philippines, where al Qaeda has been supporting terrorism for years.
Although the war has forced Mr. Bush to cancel stops in Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul, he will meet with the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea in Shanghai. Yesterday, Miss Rice praised China for providing the United States with intelligence on terrorism.
"The Chinese have been very helpful on the information-sharing side," she said.
Italy is also "sharing intelligence" with the United States, Mr. Bush said after a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the Oval Office.
The president made no mention of Mr. Berlusconi's earlier remarks about Christian societies being superior to Islamic societies, which caused an uproar among Arabs and Muslims.
During a speech to federal workers later in the day, Mr. Bush addressed an issue that has troubled conservatives since the start of the war the expansion of the federal government. Some House Republicans, for example, oppose a federal takeover of security operations at airports.
"In times of war, the American people look to the government more than they do in times of peace," Mr. Bush said. "They count on the government to defeat those who are trying to destroy us, and we will."
"In doing so, we must resist pressure to unwisely expand government," he said. "We need to affirm a few important principles: that government should be limited, but effective; should do a few things and do them well. It should welcome market-based competition wherever possible. It should respect the role and authority of state and local governments, which are closest to the people."
But the president's remarks came on a day when the White House announced a plan to use billions of tax dollars to bail out private insurers in the event of future terrorist strikes. These companies are refusing to renew terrorism coverage in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, which caused tens of billions in damages.
Also yesterday, Mr. Bush presided over a welcoming ceremony for the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, and his deputy, Gen. Pete Pace, at Fort Myers, Va.

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