- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

‘Road map’ to Kashmir

The Pakistani ambassador is calling for a “road map” to peace in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, the cause of two wars between India and Pakistan.

Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi said at a recent conference on Kashmir that the conflict reached a flash point after India and Pakistan conducted nuclear-weapons tests in 1998. It remains an impediment in the two countries’ cooperation in the war on terrorism, he said.

The neighbors nearly fought another war after an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001 that New Delhi blamed on Islamabad-backed terrorists.

“Just as Americans have come to appreciate that progress along a road map toward a just and stable peace in the Middle East is an essential requisite for lasting victory in the war against extremism and terror, they need to similarly appreciate that a road map toward a just and principled settlement of the Kashmir dispute is equally essential,” he said at the congressionally sponsored forum.

India controls two-thirds of the predominantly Muslim region, formally called Jammu and Kashmir, and accuses Pakistan of supporting Islamic terrorism to force out Indian troops.

Pakistan denies the accusation, but supports Kashmir’s resistance to Indian rule, Mr. Qazi said.

“Anyone who regards the desperate resistance of Kashmiris to occupation and repression as terrorism risks being indifferent towards human suffering,” he said.

“India claims the whole of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in defiance of the wishes of the majority of the people of the territory,” Mr. Qazi added.

“Pakistan makes no counterclaim. It merely supports the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, as mandated by U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

“The stake of the world in a just resolution of this long-standing and dangerous dispute should be obvious,” he added. “The … people of Kashmir have been denied their internationally recognized right of self-determination and their struggle on behalf of this right has resulted in massive violations of their civil and human rights.”

Pakistan rips Blackwill

Pakistan yesterday denounced the former U.S. ambassador to India for holding Islamabad responsible for terrorism in India-controlled Kashmir.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Massood Khan called Robert D. Blackwill “ill-informed” and “prejudiced” for taking India’s side in the dispute over the militant Muslim independence movement, the Associated Press reported from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

“He is suffering from ‘localitis.’ Mr. Blackwill seems to be ill-informed. He is prejudiced, and I think he is heartless because he is condoning the genocide of the Kashmiris. How can he do that?” Mr. Khan said.

Mr. Blackwill, who proclaimed his “white-hot” antiterrorism convictions in a recent speech, complained about cross-border attacks from Pakistan in a July 26 interview on New Delhi television.

“The problem persists. There are still terrorists coming across the Line of Control,” he said, referring to the border between the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir.

In one of his last speeches before leaving New Delhi, Mr. Blackwill rejected all justifications for terrorism.

“No respectable religion could excuse these merciless acts,” he said. “No moral framework could sanction these abominations. No political cause could justify these murders of innocents. And yet, they go on.”

Mr. Blackwill has accepted a new position as an aide to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on issues related to Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.

New Slovak envoy

A new ambassador from the Slovakia presented copies of his diplomatic credentials to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell last week.

Ambassador Rastislav Kacer will make a formal presentation to President Bush next month.

Mr. Kacer, 38, served as deputy defense minister from February 2001 until he was appointed to the ambassadorship.

Earlier, as director-general of the Division of International Organizations and Security Policy at the Foreign Ministry, he was in charge of preparing Slovakia for NATO membership.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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