Pakistan is epicentre of terrorism, insists India
Reuters, Hindustimes
Kuala Lumpur, February 23

Branding Pakistan an epicentre of terrorism, Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha on Sunday ruled out talks to improve ties with his arch-rival and said the United States must exert more pressure on its ally.

Speaking on the sidelines of a summit of developing nations in Kuala Lumpur that will be attended by both Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Sinha said talks with Pakistan were out of the question for now.

"Pakistan is and continues to be the epicentre of terrorism," Sinha, said.

Pakistan had exported terrorism to Afghanistan, India and the rest of the world, as demonstrated by arrests of Pakistanis in the US and Europe, Sinha said.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri says India has tried to use the tragedy of September 11 for its own ends, and maintains that Islamabad wants to re-open a dialogue to improve ties after the neighbours came close to war last year.

India has accused Pakistan of sponsoring cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, and says two Pakistan-based Islamic groups were behind an attack on its Parliament in December 2001.

Sinha said infiltration was again rising, even though such action usually drops off during the freezing Himalayan winter.

He said that while Pakistan "was shouting from the house tops" that it wants dialogue, India needed to be cautious because two earlier top level meetings were followed by serious border incursions and the attack on Parliament.


Sinha said he understood the need of the United States to befriend Pakistan in the aftermath of September 11 and with its campaign to rid Afghanistan of Al-Qaeda terrorists hiding there.

But he said Washington, with which New Delhi enjoys warm relations, could apply more pressure on the Pakistan government to stop terrorist groups operating from its territory.

"The United States has applied some pressure. The United States could certainly apply more pressure. It's up to them, it's their judgment."

Diplomats in Islamabad say cracks are appearing in the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, but fear that could play into the hands of Islamic radical groups and fuel anti-US sentiment in the nuclear-armed state.

Kasuri said this month that relations were better than were being reported in the US, Indian and Pakistani media.

Last week, India and Pakistan issued visas to senior diplomats after booting out their predecessors earlier in the month -- a move Sinha said showed the relationship was not in a deep freeze.

Talks would only follow firm steps by Pakistan to root out terrorist operating in Jammu and Kashmir, however.

"The only positive act Pakistan can do in order to convince us of their good intentions is to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and stop cross border infiltrations," Sinha said, accusing Pakistan of allowing training and financing of terrorists into India from camps across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.