The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Terror heat on peace warmth

New Delhi, April 19: India’s peace overtures to Pakistan notwithstanding, Delhi today made it clear it was in no mood to ease the pressure on Islamabad for sponsoring cross-border-terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country.

Cautioning the world in general, and the US in particular, against adopting double-standards in the fight against terrorism, foreign minister Yashwant Sinha said this evening: “So long as the capacity, infrastructure and latitude to resort to terrorism remains, no person or country is safe.”

“Terrorism has often turned upon its own mentors,” he said.

Sinha was explaining the challenges for the country’s foreign policy at a function organised by the Editor’s Guild here.

His written speech coincided with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s clarification at a news conference in Srinagar around the same time that though India wanted peace with Pakistan, it was not willing to make any compromise on terrorism.

“Terrorism today recognises no boundaries. It is not limited to a particular country or region,” Sinha said. India, he said, has been one of the worst victims of the menace, but “no religion or country is insulated, neither distance, power nor wealth provides immunity”.

His remarks may be seen in some quarters as Delhi’s attempt at backtracking after extending the hand of friendship to the Pervez Musharraf regime yesterday.

It is also an attempt to prepare world opinion on the requirements for peace to return to nuclear South Asia. “The reason there is terrorism is not because there are unresolved root causes but because terrorism has become an instrument of war by other means. It has become an instrument of revenge,” Sinha said.

“This is the reason why the term ‘proxy war’ is most appropriate to describe the policy of cross-border terrorism being sponsored by our neighbour.”

After the massacre of 24 Kashmiri Pundits in Nadimarg last month, Delhi had tried to prepare the ground for “pre-emptive” action against Pakistan, arguing the US was following a similar policy in Iraq.

But Delhi was forced to abandon the idea as it was uncertain about Islamabad’s response and failed to get support from the international community.

The Vajpayee government, as also the Bush administration, however, are worried that public opinion in India might force the leadership to go to war with Pakistan if another major terrorist attack occurs as the issue has been hyped to such an extent.

The other option for India is to engage with Pakistan to settle all disputes, including Kashmir.

So the Indian leadership wants to tell the US and other key world players that Delhi is willing to return to the talks table, but only if Islamabad stops infiltration across the Line of Control and the violence in Kashmir.

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