Visiting Powell Rebuffed By Both India And Pakistan
July 7, 2008 - 8:11 PM
New Delhi (CNSNews.com) - Secretary of State Colin Powell's weekend visit to South Asia achieved little, according to opinion here.
"Dead on arrival" was how one leading analyst described Colin Powell's latest visit to New Delhi and Islamabad. Despite his efforts, Powell was unable to persuade the traditional rivals to agree to hold peace talks of any nature.
Before he arrived, Powell played down expectations of any breakthrough in the regional diplomatic deadlock by saying the trip was "just an effort to keep the momentum moving."
India and Pakistan have been on the brink of war in recent months because of a longstanding dispute over Kashmir, and Indian claims that Pakistan is sponsoring anti-Indian terrorism.
Soon after landing in India, Powell upset his hosts by asking them to allow independent foreign observers to monitor forthcoming elections in Indian-ruled Kashmir. The Muslim majority territory is divided between the two countries and claimed by both.
Powell argued that observers "would help Indians show the international community, the world, that it is a free, open, fair election."
Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha dismissed the suggestion out of hand.
"We have a very capable, independent election commission," he said. "We are very proud of our record of elections in this country and elections in Kashmir will be very free and fair."
Sinha categorically ruled out any talks with Pakistan, arguing that the "necessary conditions for dialogue" did not currently exist.
To back up Delhi's claims about Pakistan's involvement in terrorism, government officials provided Powell with transcripts of over 70 messages they said came from control stations in Pakistan-proper and Pakistan-ruled Kashmir, that were beamed to militant groups in areas under Indian control.
The messages, reportedly intercepted by eavesdropping satellites, were cited as proof that Pakistan had reneged on its promise to dismantle terrorist camps on its soil.
Analyst K.P.S. Gill of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi said India was visibly agitated that despite "conclusive proofs" of Pakistan's terror sponsorship, the U.S. was still projecting it as a "frontline state" in its war against terrorism.
Gill said there was "something immensely offensive" about the pattern of Western intervention in South Asia.
Gill said that whenever the foreign pressure escalates, President Pervez Musharraf goes on television to decry terrorism, and terrorist infiltration drops temporarily. The West then turns the pressure onto India to offer "concessions" to Pakistan in return.
"The logic appears to be that if a mass murderer agrees - even temporarily - to stop murdering our people, we owe him something by way of reward."
Powell's suggestion about foreign observers was also condemned by political parties here.
The ruling BJP party called it "unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign, democratic nation," while opposition parties - which rarely agree with the BJP - also called the suggestion "unacceptable."
From India, Powell shuttled to Pakistan where there too, matters did not go smoothly for him.
When the Secretary asserted that terrorist infiltrations from Pakistan had not stopped entirely, and that Pakistan should ensure that they do, Musharraf replied: "I don't have to do anything [more] because we've already done it."
Musharraf accused India of spreading baseless propaganda.
Despite the rebuffs he received in both countries, Powell said afterwards the talks had "not been aimed at reaching a breakthrough but rather at keeping reduced tensions low."
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