New York, June 15: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani last night concluded his eight-day visit to the US, leaving a trail which will be picked up even to some small detail by someone who is neither part of his flock nor even an admirer.
In less than 10 days, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf will travel across America, following the exact itinerary of India’s deputy Prime Minister. Advani was in Washington from where he travelled to Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. So will Musharraf.
In Los Angeles, Musharraf will even address the World Affairs Council, the very forum at which Advani spoke.
What is different in the itineraries of the two men is that Musharraf will go to Boston as well — to see his son Bilal.
Musharraf’s trip to Chicago has been planned because his brother, a physician, lives there. Besides, there is a big community of Pakistani-Americans in Chicago, many of whom are angry that the Bush administration is repaying the debt it owes Musharraf for his support for the war in Afghanistan by harassing them with detentions, expulsions and a compulsory registration with immigration authorities, which includes finger-printing.
Bush met Advani in Washington, but he will meet Musharraf at Camp David. These differences apart, the itineraries of the two South Asian rivals in the US are identical.
Whether this was by coincidence or by design is not clear. But by choosing the same travel schedule that Musharraf will be taking in a few days, Advani effectively prepared the ground for Indian officials here, Indian community pressure groups and the India Caucus on Capitol Hill to neutralise some of what Musharraf hopes to achieve during his US visit.
Advani spoke very little about Pakistan in public until his official engagements with the Bush administration were over because his brief was to ensure that discussions on Indo-US relations did not become Pakistan-centric. But once he left Washington, Advani lambasted Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism.
On the penultimate day of his stay, he told some of the most influential men and women in New York how Pakistan had double standards on terrorism. The venue was a lunch hosted by Indian ambassador, Lalit Mansingh, and the consul general in New York, Pramatesh Rath.
Using comparisons which would make sense to Americans, Advani pointed out that while Musharraf was willing to hand over hundreds of al Qaida fighters to the US, he was unwilling to hand over to India criminals with Indian passports who were being sheltered in Pakistan.
In an argument which will be remembered by the US as Musharraf makes tall claims to be a democrat during his visit, Advani said Indian Muslims did not take to terrorism because India is a democracy unlike Pakistan.
He stressed that not even one Indian Muslim has been accused anywhere in the world of being a terrorist or held in the current worldwide campaign against al Qaida.
He said exfiltration of Indians for terrorist training in Pakistan had completely stopped and that terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir was being sustained either by Pakistanis or foreigners trained by Pakistanis.