Washington, May 8: General Pervez Musharraf gave his assurance to American envoy Richard Armitage that any terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir “would be gone tomorrow” after the US deputy secretary of state confronted Pakistan’s President with evidence of his junta’s role in orchestrating violence across the border.
According to American sources familiar with Armitage’s South Asian mission, the evidence carried by the deputy secretary of state related to the activities of five Pakistan-based organisations which were put on the “terrorist watchlist” by the state department just over a week ago.
The five Pakistan-supported terrorist outfits are: al Badr Mujahideen, Hizb-i Islami Gulbuddin, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, Jamiat ul-Mujahideen and Sipah-i-Sahbah.
Three of these organisations are being accused by the state department of operating in Jammu and Kashmir from across the Line of Control.
Although Hizb-i Islami Gulbuddin’s pre-occupation is Afghanistan, it is being accused by the US of having maintained operational links with al-Badhr Mujahideen.
The Sipah-i-Sahbah, although based in Pakistan, is targeting its terrorism primarily against Pakistan’s Shia community.
This is the second time that Americans are putting Musharraf in a spot by showing him evidence of Pakistani complicity in terrorism across the border.
Last year, during a series of missions by various Bush administration officials to defuse the military crisis on the Indo-Pakistan border, they had carried a dossier to Islamabad with a mountain of evidence about cross-border infiltration.
The dossier, among other things, was key to an assurance by Musharraf that he would end cross-border terrorism.
Significantly, Armitage’s efforts today in Islamabad to get an assurance from Musharraf about closing down terrorist camps in its territory received a shot in the arm when South Block’s spokesman demanded yesterday that “a sustained dialogue” with Pakistan would “necessarily require an end to cross-border terrorism and the dismantling of its infrastructure”.
India’s national security adviser Brajesh Mishra, who met Armitage as their paths crossed in London on Tuesday, said as much in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York yesterday.
A journalist — a visiting fellow at the council — asked Mishra why India was now ready to talk to Pakistan after its insistence all along that cross-border terrorism had to end before any dialogue.
The national security adviser replied that what was now being put in place were the initial steps preparatory to a dialogue, progress towards which will be stage by stage. There would be efforts to revive cultural links and improve economic ties, but the course of dialogue would depend on how the situation on the ground improved.
Having addressed some of the most influential Americans at the council and later at a dinner hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Mishra arrived here today for two days of meetings, the first high level talks between India and the US since the war in Iraq.
He will meet his US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush’s top-most economic adviser, Stephen Friedman. He will also speak at a dinner organised here in connection with the 97th annual conference of the American Jewish Committee, one of the most influential groups in the US.