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Yashwant comes out with US grouse

New Delhi, Aug. 26: India today came out in public with what it has been saying in private over the past few weeks: its dissatisfaction with the US for failing to pressure Pervez Musharraf to stop infiltration and cross-border-terror in Jammu and Kashmir.

Hinting for the first time at the double standards pursued by Pakistan, the US and its western allies on the global terror fight, foreign minister Yashwant Sinha said Washington showed varying levels of concern about fighting the al Qaida and the terrorist activities in Kashmir.

“India’s fight against terrorism did not begin with September 11, it has been facing the menace for years,” Sinha said at his first news conference since taking charge of external affairs. “We have been fighting it in the past and we will continue to do so in future.”

Though Sinha’s aim was to talk about his successful visit to five South Asian nations that began last month and ended yesterday in Bangladesh, the focus turned on the state of affairs between India and Pakistan.

Sinha’s remarks gather special significance in view of his visit to Washington next month and the polls in Jammu and Kashmir. He is slated to be in the US on September 9-10 and will hold detailed talks with senior members of the Bush administration, including secretary of state Colin Powell, on development in South Asia and other issues.

The foreign minister made it clear that he did not agree with the assessment of US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage that infiltration had come down.

“As far as we are concerned, infiltration is still continuing and there is no evidence to show that General Musharraf has taken steps to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan.”

He stressed that talks between India and Pakistan were not possible in “ the forseeable future” and not until Islamabad took proper steps to take care of Delhi’s concerns.

Sinha said that for the Americans, the Pakistan President was a “stalwart ally” as he was co-operating with them in the fight against the al Qaida.

But there was nothing to suggest that he was seriously fighting the terrorists crossing into Kashmir. Instead, there was evidence that Pakistan was encouraging them to continue the violence and thwart the elections.

Sinha said border troop deployment by India was a “defensive mobilisation” and it had never agreed with the West’s perception that an Indo-Pak war was imminent.

He repeated his Kathmandu statement that India favoured a joint border patrolling mechanism with Pakistan provided it openly conceded that infiltration was continuing. This could be a confidence-building measure and the two sides could then start a dialogue on the joint patrol proposal.

He said the openness Musharraf showed in his dealings with the US was missing in his transactions with India.

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