Thursday, May 23, 2002
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By Atul Aneja
In a blunt message conveyed to Pakistan's outgoing High Commissioner, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the Foreign Secretary, Chokila Iyer, said that, "our patience with terrorism has exhausted. We are no longer willing to allow things to continue as they are. Pakistan will have to end terrorism.'' Ms. Iyer, on whom Mr. Qazi had paid a "courtesy call'', said that "no one in India takes the possibility of war lightly''.
Explaining the rationale for India's disenchantment with Pakistan, she said New Delhi was committed to a dialogue, but Islamabad's sponsorship of terrorism demonstrated that it was "neither prepared for a substantive dialogue nor ready for establishing normal state-to-state relations''.
The Foreign Secretary's conversation with Mr. Qazi is being interpreted here as an amplification of the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee's observation made while addressing troops deployed at Kupwara in north Kashmir that the time for "a decisive battle'' had arrived.
Putting the onus on Pakistan for any eventuality that might follow, the Foreign Secretary asserted that Islamabad had ignored the political and popular mood in India after the December 13 "watershed'' attack on Parliament. The terrorist assault on Parliament, she said, had brought home to India's political leadership as well as people at large that terrorism had to be crushed decisively as tolerance of this menace only encouraged it.
According to Ms. Iyer, Pakistan, despite its President, Pervez Musharraf's pledges in his January 12 televised address, had not targeted the infrastructure of terrorism that existed on Pakistani soil. Leaders of terrorist organisations were arrested but subsequently released and terrorist training camps were relocated, she said.
Pakistan's response to India's list of 20 fugitives was also unsatisfactory. Despite Interpol red corner notices on a large number of these terrorists that made it mandatory for Pakistan to detain them Islamabad had decided not to take any action against them.
Pakistan, Ms. Iyer said, should realise that neither the international community nor the Pakistani media believed in its denial of support for cross-border terrorism. On the contrary, Pakistani and the international media had extensively documented the "cosmetic nature'' of Gen. Musharraf's crackdown.
Pakistan's "compulsive hostility'' towards India was the root cause of its support for cross-border terrorism. That explained the lack of meaningful response from Pakistan to India's initiative for talks both at Lahore and subsequently at Agra, she added.
In response, a press statement by the Pakistan High Commission said that Mr. Qazi brought to Ms. Iyer's attention that India's "unfounded allegations'' against Pakistan had already been "effectively rebutted.''
He said "the present dangerous situation was created by India's attempts at a policy of coercion and intimidation instead of a policy of de-escalation and dialogue''.
While India today went ahead with finalising its options towards Pakistan, the international community continued to call for restraint by both sides.
In a statement, the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, who is due for a visit to India shortly, presented a road map that could lead to a rapprochement between India and Pakistan.
"There is a pressing need of an end to terrorism, a lowering of tension, and then dialogue,'' Mr. Straw said.
Keeping Russia fully abreast about the latest developments, the External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh, had spoken to his counterpart, Igor Ivanov, last night.
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