Back in January, after the horrendous December 13 attack on the Indian parliament, General Pervez Musharraf gave a speech that described his vision of Pakistan as a modern, moderate, secular and democratic state. A state that rejected terrorism and would not be used as a base for terrorist activity "anywhere in the world".
But no sooner did the international community hail General Musharraf for his rejection of Islamic extremism than he reverted to form in attempting to describe the terrorist acts committed in India as those of "freedom fighters". Apparently, his rejection of terror "anywhere in the world" didn't include India.
General Musharraf seems not to have learned the lesson of September 11: that terrorism, any terrorism, is unacceptable. If Pakistan wants to remain a member of the international coalition against terrorism, then support for terrorists in Kashmir must end -- completely and permanently. That means no more infiltration across the Line of Control, and no more terrorist training camps on Pakistani territory. This is the minimum that the United States should expect from our ally in the war on terror and I hope Donald Rumsfeld will carry that message to Pakistan.
To be fair, we should give credit where credit is due. General Musharraf made a courageous decision on September 13 of last year and has supported Operation Enduring Freedom. Without that support, we would have had a much more difficult time prosecuting the war in Afghanistan. But in return for that support, the United States has provided significant economic assistance, including $600 million, during the past fiscal year. The Supplemental Appropriations Bill that just passed the House has $40 million in additional aid and the administration is requesting another $250 million in economic and development assistance for the coming fiscal year. And this doesn't even include the $73 million provided for border security, the additional $75 million in foreign military financing in the Supplemental and another $50 million in military assistance for the coming fiscal year.
After all this, I think it's time to make clear to General Musharraf that no further economic or military support will go to Pakistan if he continues to support militant organisations. At the very least no military assistance should go to Pakistan during the current crisis.
What concerns me the most is not that the administration won't deliver the right message, it's that the man on the receiving end of the message doesn't want to hear it or worse, intends to ignore it. After all, General Musharraf is the architect of the Kargil incursion that brought the subcontinent to the brink of nuclear war in 1999. What makes anyone believe that a cause for which he was ready to go to war three years ago is any less dear to him now?
Our experience so far is that he does not intend to call off Pakistan's support for the terrorists in Kashmir, but instead intends to continue to use violence in Kashmir to internationalise the issue and to push the international community to intervene on his behalf. We have seen this strategy before. It is the same one used by Yasser Arafat against the Israelis. And just like the Israelis, India has a right to self-defence.
It is the same right that we assert as we hunt the world over for terrorists with a global reach. We have found the next front in the war on terror, and it is in Kashmir.
The bottom line is that General Musharraf has to stop infiltration across the Line of Control -- permanently and verifiably -- and he has to dismantle the terrorist training camps on Pakistani soil. Only after he has done these things can a dialogue with India begin about Kashmir as well as all the other issues that should be discussed between two neighbours.
Accepting anything less is simply rewarding terror, and rewarding terror will only bring more violence.
Gary L Ackerman is a former co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans. This was his statement at a hearing on the situation in south Asia.
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