- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

India is afraid that Pakistan will make it easier for Islamic insurgents to infiltrate Indian-held Kashmir to deflect expected domestic anger over that nation's support for U.S. war aims in Iraq, a senior official said yesterday.
"The danger [to Kashmir] is increasing," said Kanwal Sibal, India's foreign secretary, in a meeting yesterday with reporters and editors at The Washington Times.
He said that India has pulled its troops back from the border, where more than 1 million men were ranged against each other last year, but that the tense situation could deteriorate if the gesture is not reciprocated.
"Right now the passes [leading into Kashmir] are snowbound, so there is not that much traffic going back and forth. Our fear is when the snow melts, there will be large-scale infiltration," Mr. Sibal said.
He said Pakistan which has a seat on the U.N. Security Council is relaxing restrictions on Islamic radicals for fear they will be inflamed if and when Islamabad publicly supports the forcible disarmament of Iraq.
Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali last week dismissed the idea that a new Gulf war would be a problem for Pakistan, noting during a visit to Bahrain that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had long been a supporter of India.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri made similar comments a few days later in Washington.
Mr. Sibal noted Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had not suffered an Islamist backlash when he ended his support for the Taliban forces in Afghanistan after September 11.
Nevertheless, he said, Pakistan "has already released the leaders of the most virulent organizations Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed and they are openly collecting funds for jihad in Kashmir."
He said training camps for militants continue to operate on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control and "communications traffic" is going "full steam" between guerrillas in Kashmir and their Pakistani handlers.
He said successful state elections in Kashmir in October, conducted in the face of harassment, assassinations and intimidation by Muslim radicals, had given the international community renewed confidence in India's ability to handle the insurgency.
"They want to give the new government a try," he said.
Mr. Sibal was vague about how India might participate in a multilateral coalition to disarm Iraq, saying support comes in many forms, and that India was more likely to become involved with rebuilding Iraq after the war.
He said that India was ever mindful of its growing relationship with the United States, but that it would like to see another U.N. resolution ahead of any military action in Iraq. "We'd feel comfortable if whatever is done, is done with the endorsement of the United Nations," he said.
Mr. Sibal said India is "very concerned" about North Korea's nuclear program, charging that the rogue nation, along with China, is supplying and supporting Pakistan's nuclear program.
"This nexus between North Korea and Pakistan has not been sufficiently probed. There is the suspicion that other countries, like China, are involved," he said. "Pakistan's nuclear bomb is China's bomb."

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