India says Pakistan must stop militants blamed in bombing

U.S. promises to oppose terrorist groups based within disputed Kashmir

October 03, 2001|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW DELHI, India - India demanded yesterday that the Pakistan government shut down the Pakistan-based militant group that claimed responsibility for Monday's attack in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which killed at least 38 people.

It also asked the United States to outlaw the group and to freeze its assets, as Washington has with other terrorist outfits since the attacks Sept. 11 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In Washington, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, speaking after talks with India's foreign minister, Jaswant Singh, said that the U.S. campaign against terrorism would focus on Kashmiri militants as well the al-Qaida group of Osama bin Laden, the primary suspect in the U.S. attacks.

"We are going after terrorism in a comprehensive way, not just in the present instance of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, but terrorism as it affects nations around the world, to include the kind of terrorism that affects India," Powell said.

He did not mention Jaish-e-Muhammad, or Army of the Prophet Muhammad, the group implicated in the suicide car bombing in Srinagar. And Jaish was not among the terrorist groups whose U.S. assets the Bush administration froze last week.

Pakistan also has condemned the attack, but has not agreed to meet India's demand.

It appears that a consequence of Washington's willingness to use military force against Afghanistan's Taliban rulers has been to revitalize a debate in India about why it shouldn't be similarly aggressive against groups in Pakistan that commit terrorist acts.

And the intensity of that debate will grow if there are more devastating attacks on civilians in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory that both India and Pakistan claim. The countries have fought two wars over Kashmir, and since the 1990s, India has battled insurgents there who are backed by Pakistan, based in Pakistan - and often Pakistanis themselves.

"If the United States can travel thousands of miles to take out terrorist camps, I don't see why India shouldn't do so when our cities are bombed and our legislatures attacked," said G. Parthasarathy, who retired last year as India's high commissioner to Pakistan.

In recent years, the United States has pressured India not to launch commando operations, air raids or missile attacks on militant training camps in Pakistan or the parts of Kashmir that Pakistan controls, fearing a nuclear war between the arch-enemies.

The United States now has the added worry that such an attack could unravel its new alliance with Pakistan against bin Laden.

At least until now, India's prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, has said unequivocally that India would not cross the line of control into Pakistan-held portions of Kashmir or Pakistan itself for fear of setting off a wider war.

But at a news conference yesterday, an Indian official said only that "for the moment" India still adheres to a policy of not striking at militant training camps inside Pakistan or pursuing militants into Pakistan-controlled territory.

Vajpayee struck a similar theme in a letter to President Bush that was released yesterday. Vajpayee pointedly reminded Bush that India had joined the United States in condemning nations that harbor terrorists - and drew his attention to India's anguish at Monday's terrorist attack in Kashmir.

"Ironically, it comes only a day after the president of Pakistan announced on television that Pakistan has no terrorist groups operating in its territory," Vajpayee wrote.

India's home minister, L.K. Advani, who oversees internal security in Kashmir, said in an interview yesterday that India had "a measure of understanding" for Washington's reliance on Pakistan to go after bin Laden, if only because of Pakistan's long border with Afghanistan and its sponsorship of the Taliban.

But the man in the street is less understanding, Advani said.

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