- The Washington Times - Friday, December 13, 2002

Targeting Pakistan
Osama bin Laden's terrorist network has threatened Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, as the country has increasingly become a target of extremists, Pakistani Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi said this week.
Before the September 11 attacks on the United States, Gen. Musharraf maintained good relations with the fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which sheltered bin Laden.
Since Pakistan joined the U.S.-led war against terrorism, bin Laden's followers "have made their intense hatred for the government's policies no secret," Mr. Qazi said at a forum at the Brookings Institution.
"Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism for far too long," he said. "Elements, some of them foreign, with an agenda to destabilize the country have long engaged in terrorist activities bombing, hijacking of aircraft, etc.
"They have not even spared places of worship. Mosques and churches have been the target of these sick minds. The aim is to sow mistrust, hatred and fear among the population."
The ambassador said that his government has arrested persons suspected of being al Qaeda terrorists and "continues to search, locate and put an end to this menace." Some al Qaeda militants are believed to be hiding in Pakistan.
He said that his country has "always fought back," despite its limited resources, and has "apprehended the culprits as quickly as possible."
"Pakistan is under no illusion that the battle against terrorism will [not] be a long, drawn-out affair, one that is fraught with difficulties and high costs," he said, noting that terrorists killed the brother of the country's interior minister.
"Pakistan, being a front-line state in the war on terror, has had to endure numerous casualties of its security personnel. Unfortunately, Pakistan's losses are not telecast around the world."

Surprise for Cuba
The man who helped write a U.S. law that is among the most denounced measures in Cuba is scheduled to lead an American delegation to Havana next week for a periodic review of U.S. and Cuban immigration policies.
Dan Fisk, a deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, served on the staff of Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, when Mr. Helms chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 1990s.
Mr. Fisk helped draft the so-called Helms-Burton amendment in 1996 that targets foreign companies with links to property in Cuba confiscated by Fidel Castro after the 1959 communist revolution. Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, sponsored the law in the House.
"I don't think people know how ironic this is," said one Hill source yesterday, explaining that the Cubans always use the biannual meetings to complain about Helms-Burton.
Mr. Fisk is expected to lead the U.S. delegation for talks about an immigration deal reached under the Clinton administration, when Mr. Castro agreed to put a stop to the flotillas of Cubans fleeing the country on rafts and small boats.
In August 1994, 20,000 Cubans attempted to make the crossing. Mr. Clinton's policy mandated the treatment of Cuban refugees as illegal aliens subject to detention and deportation unless they could prove they were seeking political asylum.

Vietnam's land mines
The former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam yesterday pledged $100,000 from a foundation he established to help the Southeast Asian nation clean up land mines from its past wars.
Douglas Peterson said that his Alliance for Safe Children would donate the money to Project RENEW, a humanitarian program designed to clear unexploded munitions and restore the use of land in the nation's central province of Quang Tri, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles during the Vietnam War.
"Project RENEW is extraordinary in that it achieves its goal of reducing rates of death and disabling injury due to land mines and unexploded ordnance in Vietnam," Mr. Peterson said in a statement.
The Vietnamese government has estimated that 38,000 people have been killed and 64,000 injured by those explosives since the end of the Vietnam War.
Mr. Peterson was appointed by President Clinton to serve as ambassador in 1997, two years after the United States recognized the communist government in Hanoi.

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