- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2002

JAMMU, India Hard-liners in the Indian government, angered by last week's extremist attack in Kashmir, say that the United States has erred by trusting Pakistan and that India may have to take matters into its own hands.
Senior government officials and bureaucrats now openly say India should not expect any help from the United States to curb "Pakistani terrorism."
"We don't need anyone's help to fight against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. On our own strength, we can fight this battle against it," Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani told the Indian Parliament on Tuesday during a debate on Saturday's attack in Jammu, the winter capital of the Jammu and Kashmir state.
Suspected Islamic terrorists threw grenades at people in a shanty colony, killing 29, mostly women and children.
The growing frustration in India with Washington is likely to complicate the visit by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to the region later this month.
India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir. Pakistan has sought international mediation to resolve the issue, but India considers it a bilateral dispute. Washington has said the territory is a core issue between the two nations and it must be addressed.
"Kashmir is an integral part of India, and we shall not allow any third-party mediation to resolve the issue," said Mr. Advani, a hard-line former home minister who was promoted in a Cabinet reshuffle last month.
Since the September 11 attacks, India has supported Washington's war on terrorism in Afghanistan. New Delhi even offered India's military bases for U.S. use, but the United States opted to use Pakistan's facilities because of the country's proximity to Afghanistan.
But in the past few days, Indian officials have begun to express dissatisfaction over Washington's response to terrorism in the region.
India blames Pakistan-based groups for several attacks since December, including a raid on the Parliament building in New Delhi and another on an army camp in Kashmir. Pakistan denied involvement, but under pressure from Western nations, it promised to stop the flow of terrorists into Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Though the threat of another war between the rivals has receded, the countries continue to maintain nearly a million troops along the border.
Last week, Kanwal Sibal, the new top bureaucrat at India's Foreign Ministry, complained that Pakistan was doing nothing to stop infiltration by Pakistan-based Islamic insurgents into India. But "powerful Western countries," he said, were still nudging New Delhi to go for a dialogue with Islamabad.
Mr. Sibal, who was addressing a meeting on U.S.-India relations attended by U.S. diplomats, did not mention the United States.
"We know that they had to take the trouble to evacuate their citizens from the area, fearing a possible nuclear war," he said. "And it adversely affected India's relations with the U.S. and other Western nations. If they were so afraid of the nuclear conflict, what did they do to defuse it?
"Pakistan conducted three missile tests at the height of the tension. Beyond verbal criticism, was any step taken to dissuade Pakistan from its course of action? Instead, Pakistan was rewarded. It has received more than $8 billion in aid from various multilateral lending agencies and forums," Mr. Sibal said.
India and Pakistan attracted U.S. sanctions after the 1998 nuclear tests. But Washington has gradually removed the sanctions, leading to somewhat improved relations with New Delhi. India is now seen as an emerging power in South Asia and an ally in the region. Recent joint military exercises between the two countries were a result of this growing friendship.
Analysts say India and the United States value their common strategic goals in the region and are certain to work to overcome temporary setbacks.
"Containment of China is the foremost objective that the two countries share, and this is the key reason that brought U.S. and India closer to each other," said Bharat Karnad, an analyst at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research.


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