- WASHINGTON - Home minister
L.K. Advani began whirlwind talks at the highest levels of the Bush administration
today by cautioning Americans that five faceless terrorists causing another
incident akin to the December 13 attack on Parliament could plunge South
Asia into war.
Making out a strong case on behalf of India on the world stage since December
13, the burden of Advani,s argument with attorney-general John Ashcroft,
secretary of state Colin Powell and others today was as follows.
Unless General Pervez Musharraf can convince New Delhi that he is serious
about putting down terrorism directed against India, another attack like
the one on Parliament will be blamed on Musharraf by Indian public opinion
even if his government did not organise or facilitate it.
Musharraf,s steps against Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and other terrorist
outfits operating from Pakistani soil can carry conviction in India only
if he backs it up, as a starting point, by actually handing over at least
some of the criminals listed by India for extradition and trial.
Musharraf has so far absolved his country of any responsibility for terrorist
incidents within India. If he is to be believed, not a single Pakistani
has done anything to hurt India.
Puncturing a big hole in Musharraf,s self-proclaimed alibis to avert a
conflict and continue the low intensity war to bleed India with these arguments,
Advani asked the Bush administration not to harp only on public opinion
in Pakistan and about Musharraf,s domestic compulsions in having to move
slowly and cautiously against jihadi outfits.
India too has similar compulsions, the home minister told Ashcroft, his
host here and Powell, who is set to go to India and Pakistan in a few days.
Public opinion in India has been distrustful of Musharraf,s action against
anti-Indian terrorists so far. In a democracy, Advani told the Bush team,
it is very difficult to defy public opinion. The Americans ought to know
that better than anyone else.
Sources privy to today,s talks said Advani gave a clear and concise exposition
of Indian fears, suspicions and demands. The Indian side believes the home
minister,s arguments will have a strong effect on the Bush administration
which sees the need to avert war in South Asia as paramount to Washington,s
US soldiers do not want to get enmeshed in a long and dirty war in Afghanistan
and using the Pakistani army to fight America,s war against the al Qaida
and the Taliban can be continued only if there is no conflict along the
- Copyright © 2001 The Telegraph All rights reserved