- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Pakistan has resumed active support of violent Islamic insurgents in the disputed Kashmir region after a brief lull, Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said yesterday.

Mr. Sinha, who met with congressional leaders yesterday after an hourlong private talk with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Monday, said he found new understanding in the Bush administration over the Kashmir issue and warned that efforts to distinguish between "good" and "bad" terrorists threaten to undermine the global anti-terrorism effort.

Trying to understand the "root causes" of terrorist movements is "self-defeating," Mr. Sinha said in an interview. "Terrorism is terrorism. If you start to go into all those other issues, you cannot fight a successful battle against the terrorists themselves," he said.

The Indian foreign minister arrived in Washington at a delicate time for Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority province and the flash point for five decades of hostility and two shooting wars with neighboring Pakistan.

Indian-controlled Kashmir, in the grip of a violent Islamic insurgency that New Delhi claims is funded and fueled from Pakistan, begins a series of local elections next week.

Pakistan and Muslim separatist leaders inside Kashmir have denounced the vote, saying India has rigged past elections to defy the will of Kashmir's majority. Islamic militants have vowed to undermine the balloting and one candidate has already been killed in pre-election violence.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage obtained a promise from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in June to end infiltrations by Muslim rebels across the informal border that divides Kashmir, but Mr. Sinha said yesterday Pakistan had not kept its promise.

"Our evidence suggests there was a marginal decline in infiltrations in June and July, but that cross-border terrorism was very significantly up again in August," he said.

After meeting Mr. Sinha Monday, Mr. Powell said he told the minister the United States "would continue to press the Pakistani government to do everything possible to stop the cross-border infiltration and remind them of the commitment they have made."

Mr. Sinha said yesterday that Mr. Powell's comments amounted to a tacit endorsement of India's complaints.

"Musharraf said he was putting an end to infiltrations," Mr. Sinha said. "That is not a view we share and it is not shared by the United States. Colin Powell would not be saying he was putting pressure on Pakistan over this issue if the case were otherwise."

Mr. Musharraf has accused India of running a global smear campaign against his government, and called for the United States to intervene in the long-running Kashmir dispute.

But Mr. Sinha insisted yesterday that the U.S. role in the dispute should be strictly limited to ensuring Pakistan keeps its promises.

"The involvement of the United States and the international community in [the Kashmir dispute] is only limited to discussions of curbing cross-border terrorism," he said, "not to mediate between India and Pakistan."

On Iraq, Mr. Sinha said he had received the impression from U.S. officials that the Bush administration plans to seek a U.N. Security Council resolution to lay the groundwork for action against the regime of Saddam Hussein.

He noted that India has a "very high stake" in the region, including 1.4 million Indians who live in the Middle East, extensive trade ties, and remittances from Indian expatriates valued at $7 billion to $8 billion a year.

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