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September 14, 2000
US wants Pak to show restraint, restrain militants
T V Parasuram in Washington
Senior US administration officials on Thursday renewed an appeal for Indo-Pak dialogue on Kashmir, but asked Pakistan military ruler General Pervez Musharraf to make it possible by "showing restraint, renouncing violence and using his influence over the militants".
They said the US was certainly aware of the Indian government's concerns about the level of violence in Kashmir and "it is something that we have raised directly with the authorities in Pakistan." While the dialogue should begin, they added, the US also wants that more positive conditions on the ground must be created.
"One will have to be realistic in assessing the situation," they said, "to see if there is movement in the right direction." The officials said that President Clinton would like to hear in person Prime Minister Vajpayee's assessment of the situation, and "how he thinks he is going to move forward."
"He has taken some significant political risks over the last several years, going to Lahore, exercising restraint on a number of occasions. The President will want to encourage him in what he has done and probably share with him some of his thoughts," they added.
When a correspondent pointed out that violence still emanates in Kashmir from Pakistan, the senior officials said it was not so much for the US to determine whether or not enough had been done. It was very much for the parties themselves to determine.
"Clearly," said the senior officials, "the Indian government does not feel there has been enough improvement on the ground to justify a return to dialogue" after what happened in Kargil.
"So we do believe Pakistan has a role to play in lowering the level of activity along the Line of Control and clearly across the border. Clearly there are groups operating in Kashmir that are certainly beyond the control of any single government or entity, but, again, Pakistan has an important role to play here," they said.
The US, they said, had urged Pakistan in virtually every way through public statements as well as through confidential channels to use the influence. "We think there are steps that both parties could take to create that positive environment."
The officials lauded the positive response by the Indian government to the Hizbul Mujahideen's ceasefire and the release of some Kashmiri prisoners. They said the US remained concerned over the Kashmir situation. "At some point that will have to be addressed and we hope it can be sooner rather than later."
rediff.com has assigned Associate Editors Amberish K Diwanji and Savera R Someshwar to cover Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the United States. Don't forget to log into rediff.com for news of this historic visit as it happens!
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