|HOME | NEWS | REPORT|
|June 30, 1998||
US senators return empty-handed from subcontinent
One month after India and Pakistan conducted underground nuclear tests, a ''shocked'' world has more questions, than answers, US senators Sam Brownback and Charles Rob have said.
Will economic sanctions convince either country to renounce nuclear weapons?
In whose interest is an economically and politically unstable South Asia?
Will either or both countries fit nuclear warheads onto the medium-range missiles they both possess?
How to avoid a fourth -- most probably -- nuclear confrontation in South Asia?
After two days of meeting Indian and Pakistani leaders, the senators -- both members of the US senate foreign relations committee -- said it's clear that the two countries are far apart on the most volatile issue of Kashmir.
Pakistan wants international mediators, most notably the United Nations and the United States, to settle the 51-year-old dispute.
India flatly rejects outside interference.
The senators told a news conference at the Pakistan Air Force base before returning to India and then to the United States that there remains a lot of ground to cover before the region is a safe one.
''We are here to encourage both Pakistan and India to take steps to reduce tension in the region and to encourage each side not to take provocative actions or steps on Kashmir,'' said Brownback, a Republican from Kansas.
''The parties involved are doing too much sabre-rattling in a very difficult situation,'' he said.
Pakistan's foreign minister Gohar Ayub earlier warned that another war could easily escalate into a nuclear conflagration.
The two US senators toured the Pakistan side of the disputed Kashmir border.
There the senators said they heard horrific stories from villagers of relentless killing.
''There is a lot of senseless killing and maiming going on,'' said Rob, a Democrat from Virginia. ''The victims are all civilians.''
He suggested that a ceasefire on the troubled border would be a good first step towards soothing tempers in the region.
The senators said they are leaving the region with neither a commitment to renounce nuclear weapons nor a promise not to deploy them.
Brownback said the visit to the region is a recognition that ''the world is focused on South Asia. . . This is the opening page of a new chapter. . . The events of may set the world reeling and we are now just stepping back and saying how can we move forward.''
US law automatically imposed sanctions on the two countries, a move that is likely to cost Pakistan about 1.5 billion dollars and India an estimated 3 billion dollars in loans.
However, the US senators said there is a debate in the United States over the effectiveness of sanctions.
''The instability of economic insecurity and political insecurity is not in anyone's interest,'' said Rob.
INFOTECH | TRAVEL | LIFE/STYLE | FREEDOM | FEEDBACK