The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No takers for Delhi’s Iraq twist

New Delhi, April 10: Several countries, including the US, are building up pressure on India to resume dialogue with Pakistan to ease tension in South Asia.

The US, along with Britain, France and China, has made it clear to Delhi that it would not support any military action against Islamabad.

Over the past few days, the Indian leadership, particularly foreign minister Yashwant Sinha, had been trying to build a case for military action against Pakistan for its continued support to the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sinha’s attempt to link the US war on Iraq with the Kashmir situation by asserting that India also has the right for “pre-emptive strike” against Pakistan has, however, failed to find any supporter.

His remarks on the Pakistan-Iraq parallel were today dismissed by US secretary of state Colin Powell, who urged both countries to resolve their differences peacefully.

“I don’t think that there is a direct parallel between the two situations (Iraq and Pakistan),” Powell told state-run Pakistan Television. Washington was in “very close touch” with both Pakistan and India as “we (the US) are looking to help the two parties to resolve this in a peaceful way”.

Recently, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said: “China has always held that conflicts or disputes between states should be solved peacefully through dialogue instead of resorting to force or the threat of use of force. India and Pakistan are countries of importance in South Asia and have great responsibility in maintaining peace and stability in the region.”

But the threat of yet another war between the two nuclear neighbours continues to haunt the region.

Reacting to the Indian decision to test the long-range Agni III missiles, Pakistan on Sunday said it would take “appropriate” steps to respond to Delhi’s aggressive gesture.

It also alleged Delhi possessed chemical and biological weapons, besides building a nuclear arsenal.

Foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna dismissed the Pakistani charge as “denatured nonsense”.

Delhi, however, has realised that it would be alone if it opted for a military strike against Pakistan, though the international community has condemned the recent terrorist killings of Kashmiri Pundits and asked the Pervez Musharraf regime to stop cross-border terrorism.

But both the Vajpayee government as well as the world leaders seem to be in a fix in case there are more terrorist attacks in the country.

A military option is not an easy one. But at the same time, the government cannot be seen as doing nothing in the face of regular terrorist attacks in the country sponsored by Pakistan.

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