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July 13, 1999
India refuses help to US in nailing Bin Laden
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government has rejected the United States proposal that India should cooperate to apprehend Saudi millionaire-terrorist Osama Bin Laden, who tops Washington's list of most wanted.
According to senior officials in the ministry of external affairs, the Indian political leadership turned down US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gibson Lampher, who made the proposal in New Delhi in early June in a bid to defuse the Kargil conflict.
Explaining the reason behind the Indian decision, the officials said that New Delhi's agreeing to the US proposal would entail providing a base to Americans in Kashmir where Bin Laden is reported to have a role in fostering terrorism. They pointed out that India had been consistently maintaining that all matters pertaining to Kashmir were an Indo-Pak bilateral affair, and no third party mediations was needed.
It was also pointed out that the crafty US proposal was basically designed to gain a foothold on Indian territory, which suits Washington in its South Asia foreign policy.
"We are aware of the pitfalls of third party mediation. That is the reason New Delhi discourages any sort of third party mediation, no matter in which form it is sought to be suggested," the officials stated.
The Indian rejection is understood to have been learnt by Islamabad soon after it was made. It was bad news for the Nawaz Sharief government. For, Pakistan believed that it could gain manifold if American presence in Kashmir became a reality.
Significantly, it was stressed, after New Delhi rejected the proposal, Islamabad's offensive in Kargil assumed a new ferocity.
However, New Delhi's counterattacks were equally vigorous and the gradual advance of the Indian troops on the high reaches in Kargil constrained the Pakistan prime minister to rush to Washington and make the joint US-Pak statement saying Pakistani forces would be pulled back, it was emphasised.
The officials pointed out that many in the US were now repenting that Washington had been chiefly instrumental in creating the Hydra-headed monster of Islamic terrorism in South Asia and other parts of the world.
They emphasised that ironically, Bin Laden was a product of the earlier American largesse in propping up Islamic fundamentalists in the South Asian region.
The weaponisation of Afghanistan, through generous American aid programmes, gave an opportunity to Pakistan to distribute arms to favoured Mujahid groups. Large consignments were passed to terrorist groups that were being trained in Pakistan for covert operation in Kashmir, Tajikistan and Xinjiang (China), the officials pointed out.
It is learnt that on the Grand Trunk Road, in a crowded market junction, there is a walled compound in which the headquarters of the Afghan war for Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence is located. MEA reports emphasised that near the ISI headquarters a large number of trucks went unnoticed, on the road to Peshawar, disgorging periodically Chinese long range rockets, Soviet-made rockets from Egypt, American and Italian anti-tank weapons, missiles and British limpet mines.
It was stressed that during the 1980s, the Americans helped the ISI in establishing two secret guerrilla warfare schools, including one for training in urban sabotage, chemical warfare and electric delay bomb timers. These functioned from the remote areas of West Pakistan, and also specialised in cycle bombs, briefcase bombs and remote-control devices.
According to the officials, a terrorist organisation, Mektab-Al Khadamat, was established in Peshawar by Abdulla Asam, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin. MAK worked in close cooperation with Bin Laden. It is learnt that Bin Laden has established an organisation called Bayt-Al-Ansar (House of Helpers ) for providing recruits to the MAK.
Well-paid volunteers graduating from Mektab are indoctrinated to wage war against kafirs (non-believers), Christians, Hindus and Muslims opposing the Taliban. Later, Shias figured prominently among the kafirs, the officials said.
The anti-Shia operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan were a manifestation, it was pointed out, of the rigid Sunni-Wahabi mindset.
It was stressed that the continuous shelling of Kargil town, a predominantly Shia locality across the LoC, was also a violent demonstration of the anti-Shia feelings, besides other factors.
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