- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2003

Kashmir resolution
Sometimes a foreign ambassador must turn his attention away from Washington to deal with diplomatic brush fires in far-flung corners of the United States.
Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh recently scrambled to counter a resolution in the New Hampshire legislature on the disputed Kashmir region that has long created tensions with India's nuclear rival Pakistan.
India is suspicious that any criticism of its sovereignty over its part of the Himalayan province is veiled support for Pakistan's claim over the majority-Muslim area. New Delhi has rejected any plebiscite on the future of Indian-controlled Kashmir and blames Pakistan for fomenting separatist guerrillas in the portion it controls.
Mr. Mansingh, in a letter to the New Hampshire House and Senate, expressed concerns that the legislators did not have all the facts when they adopted a resolution last month that called for "increased diplomacy to achieve a just, peaceful and rapid resolution" to the conflict in the region, formally called the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The ambassador cited local elections in September and October as proof that the residents of Kashmir accept India's position.
"As in the rest of India, they have used the ballot box as a vehicle to voice their aspirations and their grievances," Mr. Mansingh wrote. "Their rights are respected and protected by the [Indian] Constitution and by a fiercely independent judiciary."
He rejected any Pakistani claim over the entire region as "irredentist and illegitimate" and accused Islamabad of an "illegal occupation" of the Pakistani-controlled area.
"Over the last 55 years, it has sought to expand those territorial ambitions through the use of force," Mr. Mansingh wrote. "Having initiated and lost three wars with India, Pakistan now relies on the use of terrorism to achieve its political objectives. … Pakistan today is the world's most notorious breeding ground for terrorism."
Pakistan denies it supports terrorism in Kashmir, and considers the militants there as freedom fighters trying to liberate a repressed Muslim population.
Pakistan's rebuttal
Pakistani Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi says his country concedes nothing to India over the Kashmir dispute, not even the boundaries between the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled areas.
"There is only one country in the world that takes the position that Kashmir is an integral part of India, and that is India itself," Mr. Qazi said in a recent speech at California's Stanford University.
He said the official position of the United Nations is that the region is disputed territory.
Mr. Qazi also dismissed news articles questioning Pakistan's commitment to the United States and the war on terrorism.
He said Pakistan "has become a critical and crucial ally of the United States" since the September 11 attacks.
"The relationship between Pakistan and the United States is going to be of fundamental importance," Mr. Qazi said.
He said terrorism is caused by a failure of government to create jobs and promote justice.
"We see political extremism and religious extremism largely because of the failure of government and elites to provide the type of socioeconomic transformation we need," he said.
"Terrorism is the pervasion of hopelessness, the perception that justice is not available.
"The war on terrorism has to ultimately be a war against injustice, desperation and hopelessness."
Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and Northern Irish political leaders David Trimble of the Ulster Unionist Party, John Hume of the Social Democratic and Labor Party and Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein. They attend the annual dinner of the American Ireland Fund. Mr. Adams holds a noon news conference at the National Press Club.
Social Democratic and Labor Party leader John Hume, who addresses a forum on "justice and reconciliation" sponsored by the South African Embassy and the Global Citizens Circle.
Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, Austria, who discusses opium growing in Afghanistan in a briefing sponsored by Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies.

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