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July 27, 1999
Pallone opposes move to seek US mediation in Kashmir
C K Arora in Washington
Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone has urged fellow lawmakers to oppose the move by the Pakistani lobby in Congress to put the United States in the role of a mediator in the Kashmir conflict.
He made the plea in response to a letter written by two Democratic Congressmen -- Robert Torricelli and Tim Johnson -- to President Bill Clinton asking him to consider appointing a "special envoy," to recommend ways of ascertaining the wishes of the Kashmiri people and strengthening of the UN Military Observers Group to monitor the situation along the Line of Control.
The two Congressmen are circulating their letter among the lawmakers.
Pallone said, "Members of Congress should be urging the administration to stick to its policy of not intervening and in stressing the importance of India and Pakistan resolving this conflict under the existing bilateral frameworks," he added.
Noting the fact that both countries are nuclear powers, the letter also makes reference to "Muslim Pakistan and Hindi India."
''I think, it is wrong to characterise India that way," Pallone said adding, "true, Pakistan was established as an Islamic state. But while Hindus comprise a majority of the population of India, it also provides full citizenship for its minority communities, including Muslims."
"I'm not sure if that reference was intentional or careless, but it's not the type of statement that should be in letter from members of Congress," he added.
Pallone has written a letter to members of Congress urging them not to sign the Torricelli-Johnson letters, and drawing attention to his July 7 letter to President Clinton stating that the administration should resist Pakistani pressure to internationalise the Kashmir issue.
He said Pakistan had recently made a series of disastrous moves in the Kashmir conflict. And those reckless moves had clearly backfired. ''Now, Pakistan is trying to gain at the negotiating table what it lost on the battlefield," he added.
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