June 14, 2002 (SANA)- Pakistani Ambassador to the
United States Dr Maleeha Lodhi has said that Indian strategy has been to
cast Kashmir struggle as terrorism adding that it was constantly denying the
right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people at the cost of peace of
was addressing a seminar entitled "In the Shadow of Terrorism: Pakistan's
Evolving Relationship with the United States" at Meridian International
Centre " Kashmir movement is a just struggle for the right of self
determination as approved by UN charter and cannot be termed terrorism",
dispelled the Indian allegations of cross-border infiltration as untenable
and divorced from reality. "Pakistan's views on infiltration are clear and
unambiguous. President Musharraf has categorically stated that Pakistan
would not allow anyone to use its territory for terrorism anywhere. We
continue to abide by that commitment", she said.
said that it was illogical to hurl allegations of intrusion when "The Line
of Control is heavily mined on the Indian side and is defended by a
three-layer defence perimeter in addition to over 250, 000 Indian troops
deployed along the LoC to prevent infiltration. "We have called for
strengthening of UNMOGIP or any other neutral verification mechanism to
monitor the LoC. India continues to reject this reasonable proposal", she
informed the participants.
said that India allegedly implicated Pakistan in Jammu attack on May 14 and
the attack on Indian Parliament last December without substantiating its
flimsy claims with tenable evidences even though Pakistan categorically
condemned the terrorist attacks.
India turned down Pakistan's offer of holding either joint inquiry or an
independent investigation into the attacks to identify the elements behind
the terrorist acts and instead fanned the war hysteria by amassing its
troops on Pakistani borders", she said.
further said, "This was in addition to extremely sharp rhetoric and public
statements on dangerous notions of hot pursuit, surgical strikes and limited
war. Not so long ago, Prime Minister Vajpayee had threatened a decisive
Referring to Indian demand of asking Pakistan to hand over fugitives she
said, "Matters like fugitives need time to be addressed as they involve
sharing of evidence and compliance with legal procedures."
Lodhi said that Pakistan had taken a series of steps to address the
question of extremism and terrorism by banning several militant groups,
closing their offices , freezing their accounts and arresting hundreds of
About the Indian proposal of joint patrolling on LoC she said, "The
proposal is unlikely to work in the current state of Indo-Pak relations as
both states are distrustful of each other."
said that Pakistan had repeatedly stated its willingness to discuss all
issues, including mutual concerns on terrorism, as part of comprehensive
dialogue with India. "My country , for its part, has acted with restraint
and responsibility in the face of India brinkmanship. We deployed our forces
defensively to thwart any Indian misadventure and continued to call for
resumption of dialogue at any time, any place", she added. "Pakistan, for
its part, would continue to follow a constructive approach to resolve this
crisis through peaceful, diplomatic means and urge the de-escalation of
tensions, return of troops to peace-time locations, and resumption of
dialogue", she said.
however clarified that Pakistan would defend itself resolutely in case of
Indian aggression. She said that the present phase in Pakistan-India
relations commenced after 9/11 as New Delhi did not take kindly to the
revival of Pak-U.S. alliance and had sought to create doubts internationally
about Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism.
Dilating on U.S. and international role in defusing the tension between
nuclear armed rivals she said, "The U.S. has been playing a very useful
role, no matter how people choose to characterize it -- mediation or
facilitation. President Bush and Mr Powel have been in touch with leaders in
India and Pakistan and have devoted a lot of time in a bid to ease tension.
regretted that the world becomes involved in South Asia only
for crisis management and added the need now was to go beyond this
minimalist approach and craft a sound conflict-resolution strategy.
"South Asia teeters on the brink of war every 2-3 years. To prevent
future crises, it is essential to address the underlying causes of tensions
and conflict. A fair and just solution of the Kashmir dispute, in accordance
with aspirations of Kashmir people", she said.
said that the world had to tell India that it could not persuasively and
legitimately argue any longer that Kashmir was not their business.
She asked for a pro-active, sustained and result-oriented engagement of the
world in the Kashmir issue and especially the US to facilitate a peace
process in South Asia that leads to a fair Kashmir solution and durable
peace in the region.
About Pak-US relations she said " A profound transformation has taken place
in the environment of Pakistan-U.S. relations. The two countries are -- once
again -- intensely engaged. Our re-engagement this time is markedly
different in substance and symbolism -- especially if viewed against the
backdrop of our troubled relationship in the 1990s."
rejected the argument that the re-engagement began only after Pakistan's
agreement to cooperate with the United States in the aftermath of 9/11
saying , "This view looks at the reality only superficially. It overlooks
the reform process initiated in Pakistan back in October 1999, aiming at
economic revival, political stability, and social and religious moderation.
Its domestic focus aside, our reform process also encompassed external
She disclosed that much before 9/11, Pakistan was well on course with the
U.S. to narrow differences over Afghanistan and to evolve joint approaches
to address the terrorism issue.
"For its part, the Bush Administration was also more broadly engaged with
Pakistan than its predecessor and -- taking a realistic view of the
non-proliferation question -- was on the brink of waiving sanctions", she
She however admitted that the process of engagement and gradual
transformation of bilateral relations was undoubtedly accelerated after 9/11
and President Musharraf's immediate offer of cooperation to President Bush.
She also rejected the claim of some quarters that Pakistan had no other
choice but to join America in its war against terrorism to escape American
She said, "We reject the insinuation implicit in this view. One, sovereign
nations always have a range of choices, but they choose the path that is
best dictated by their own national interests. Two, our positive response to
America's call in its hour of need was not only consistent with our past
counter-terrorism cooperation with Washington but also reinforced the
general direction in which President Musharraf was moving Pakistan."
She added that Pakistan entered into this counter-terrorism coalition of its
free will was further illustrated by the breadth and depth of cooperation
extended by us to the U.S.
"President Bush, Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld, and Generals Meyers and
Franks, have often lauded Pakistan's role by calling it extraordinary and
excellent", Dr Lodhi said.
She held that the swift and significant successes achieved by the global
coalition in Afghanistan would not have been possible without Pakistan's
Terming Pak-India tension as distraction she said, " We do believe the
Indo-Pak crisis has been a distraction and our ability to fully focus on the
Western border is constrained due to the threat posed to our national
security from the East."
She maintained that in the present phase in Pakistan-U.S. relations, her
country stood at a new threshold adding that after a very long time, both
the countries had a relationship free of the strangulating framework of
She said that Afghanistan and terrorism were the major points of convergence
between US and Pakistan. "Our dialogue today not only focuses on
counter-terrorism cooperation but encompasses diverse areas -- ranging from
bilateral and international economic issues to trade and investment ties to
security and non-proliferation to science and technology cooperation to
assistance in education and law enforcement", Maleeha said.
She said that since President Musharraf's visit of February 13, both the
countries had a series of Ministerial visits which have helped impart
institutional depth to the relationship.
Giving the details of joint expertise between US and Pakistan she said," The
Defense Consultative Group has been revived, the Joint Economic Forum has
held its inaugural meeting, and the Joint Working Group on Law Enforcement
and Counter-terrorism has become operational. A Working Group on Trade and
Commercial issues is being established."
She said that the bilateral relationship between the two had been
broadening and the level of cooperation in diverse areas was deepening.
She said that though the history of our bilateral relations had been replete
with periodic freezes and thaws but the future looked shiny.
"In our view, the cyclical pattern of past U.S. engagement with
Pakistan was largely a function of Washington's Cold War considerations. The
two countries engaged or disengaged as these considerations became manifest
or dormant", she said.
She further said, "The cooperation developed during the earlier periods of
engagement was heavily influenced by external factors, and was usually based
on a single security anchor. It was not necessarily intrinsic to a Pakistan-U.S.
relationship, for its own sake."
"The present is certainly different from that past: The Cold War is
over, the U.S. is still evolving an appropriate response to the new
international security challenges, and Pakistan has a different set of
domestic and foreign policy priorities", she added.
"Within this context, we visualize -- for the future -- a broad,
comprehensive Pakistan-U.S. relationship going beyond counter-terrorism and
sustainable over the long term", she observed.
She further said,"Pakistan does not want a dependency relationship, as
happened during the cold war, but a partnership for mutual benefit. A
partnership with across-the-board cooperation and one in which trade and
investment are more important than aid."
"We have found responsiveness on the U.S. side for this vision of
bilateral relations. We hope to build a strong, robust partnership in line
with this vision", she concluded.