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Subcontinent still on our radar: US
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC |
April 11, 2003 01:29 IST
Senior Bush administration officials have denied the contention of several South Asia experts at recent seminars in New York and Washington that the US, which is focussed on Iraq, is ignoring the subcontinent, a potential nuclear flashpoint.
Consequently, according to these experts, nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation goes on, with Pakistan engaged in clandestine cooperation with North Korea.
They also refer to the Al Qaeda and Taliban regrouping in Pakistan and cross-border infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir.
But US officials told rediff.com that this notion is misplaced and referred to Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent statements in interviews with The New York Times and European correspondents.
"We want to make sure we don't find ourselves in the same situation we were a year ago," Powell told the Times. "When everybody was predicting war [between India and Pakistan], we managed to solve that. People forget. If we had a nuclear war they wouldn't have forgotten it, but we didn't have one so they forgot it."
According to Powell, "A hell of a lot of work went into preventing an Indo-Pak nuclear war."
The officials said, "We sure know the dangers inherent in tensions between India and Pakistanů So, while we certainly focused on Iraq and that continues to get our immediate attention, this in no way means we will ignore South Asia.
"The fact that the secretary himself has brought up this issue, even as he is engaged in the Iraq issue, shows how much he is aware that we just cannot allow tensions between India and Pakistan to once again build up to the dangerous levels last year."
One official told rediff.com that Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca would go to the subcontinent 'very shortly' to meet the leaders of both India and Pakistan.As soon as 'things are set in motion on the Iraq situation', Powell or his deputy Richard Armitage will visit Islamabad and New Delhi to 'try and get some sort of peace process or dialogue going', he said.