No announcement yet.

To go or not to go is the question?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    To go or not to go is the question?

    To go or not to go, US disucsses Pak again

    WASHINGTON: A titanic struggle within the Washington establishment about whether President Clinton should stop over in Pakistan during his trip to the Indian subcontinent will be settled this week amid increasing concerns about his security and a gradual acknowledgement here of Islamabad's patronage of terrorism.

    National Security Advisor Sandy Berger has convened a White House meeting to weigh the matter, though sources say the final call will be made by the President himself. Given the monumental pressure brought upon the establishment, it will be a small miracle if he decides not to go.

    But sources said the decision will be held back ``as long as possible'' to avoid heartburn in the two constituencies fighting the battle in Washington. The White House has been deluged by letters, e-mails, and calls asking the President to go/not to go to Pakistan.

    What is becoming increasingly evident is that any decision to go to Pakistan will be made with a great deal of reluctance and trepidation. For all the hoarse shouting and incessant moaning from the Pakistani lobby, all it may get is a brief stopover aimed more at giving the military junta a dressing down on terrorism and proliferation.

    Just how much Washington is dreading this trip from the security angle is evident from remarks by US officials expressing apprehension about the danger to the President's life if he visits Pakistan ``because the nation's security service has been heavily infiltrated by anti-American militants.''

    US officials also fear that information on procedures used to protect traveling presidents could be used by terrorists with a ``global reach'' to threaten the lives of future American leaders, The Washington Times reported on Wednesday.

    ``The host government provides 95 per cent of the protection for a President on a visit. Only the last 5 per cent is provided by our Secret Service people. It's where their security people interact with ours that they can learn about our methods, techniques and secrets,'' an unnamed official was quoted as saying.

    ``This would endanger the life of President Clinton in Pakistan and on other trips. It also threatens future US presidents. These terrorists are transnationals and operate around the world,'' the official added.

    Implicit in this and other statements is the acknowledgement that rogue elements that dominate the Pakistani establishment have been using terrorism as a policy instrument.

    In fact, the Times reported officials as saying Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence agency, known as the ISI, has been working for years with anti-American groups such as Harkat-ul Mujahideen, which is on the State Department list of terrorist groups.

    Pakistan's ISI also has dealt for years with reputed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, and since the rule of military dictator Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, it increasingly has been infiltrated by Islamic zealots, the paper quoted analysts and officials saying.

    One official in fact went as far as expressing fears about Islamic extremists from Afghanistan, ``who move easily across the border with Pakistan,'' attacking any airport used by the President. ``They have experience with long-range shelling,'' the official said.

    Obviously, the nightmare scenario for Washington's security establishment is the use of Stinger missiles that the CIA liberally distributed in the area during the Afghan war, many of which are not accounted for.

    The remarks relating to security concerns, and similar statements by senior US officials on the ``swamp of terrorism'' as the Pakistan-Afghanistan border badlands are being called, reflect the growing unease and tension within the administration on how to deal with an increasingly lawless and desperate state.

    There is an emerging constituency here that believes Islamabad has to be brought to book for its patronage of terrorism without splitting hairs about whether it is in response to the situation in Kashmir. Or for that matter whether such patronage is ``official'' or is being guided by the rogue elements in Pakistan's secret service.

    There is another constituency that believes that it is best not to drive Pakistan into a corner and it is imperative for Washington to engage any moderate elements in that country and isolate the extremists.

    The former constituency is pushing the Clinton Administration to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism in the annual list that is announced on April 28.

    In fact, US officials have indicated that this year, Washington may be inclined to remove some of the seven countries in the list (sometimes called the ``seven sisters'') like Libya following improved ties and compliance with anti-terrorist measures.

    Officials have said new countries may also be added to the list and disclosed that the case against Pakistan is ``under review.'' Following the implied threat, Islamabad is now hurriedly taking measures to disarm its gun-toting extremists but there is no evidence to show that is able to cap the terrorist genie it has let loose in Kashmir.

    The Washington establishment is increasingly beginning to question the Pakistani version that the violence in Kashmir is indigenous arising out of a homegrown separatist movement. Recent reports indicate that India's version that Pakistan is actively fomenting violence with armed infiltration is seen as more credible and is gaining acceptance.

    The post put light on two main points:
    (i) The US and the world acknowledges the close links that the subsequent Pak governments were having and still have, with terrorist groups and that terrorist crimes, aided and abetted by Pakistan's ISI, are an integral part of its hostile plans of subversion and separatism, in India and elsewhere.

    (ii) Even if President Clinton goes to Pakistan, which is still highly unlikely, it will be more to pressurise them further into doing what US wants them to do (i.e. returning to democracy and stop terrorist activities in India and elsewhere)than to shake a friendly hand.


      New York Times,February 22, 2000

      Is This Trip Necessary?: Clinton Risks Ire in India or Pakistan

      NEW DELHI, Feb. 21 -- Will he or won't he? Should he or shouldn't he?

      Those questions are the talk of the capitals of India and Pakistan as President Clinton -- who has announced that next month he will become the first president since Jimmy Carter to visit India -- makes the
      excruciatingly difficult decision about whether he will also stop in Pakistan, where the military seized power in a coup four months ago.

      The downside is steep either way he calls it. India is unequivocally opposed to such a visit. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has warned that the public here will be deeply offended if Mr. Clinton goes.
      Likewise, Pakistan is prepared to take great umbrage if Mr. Clinton does not pay his respects there. Pakistani officials warn that his absence could generate a vicious anti-American backlash.

      There is a risk in the current angry, charged atmosphere -- one in which both sides have dug in their heels on some of the most contentious issues -- that Mr. Clinton's trip will stir resentments in
      both countries and leave peace just as distant as ever.

      The last serious attempt at a peace initiative ended disastrously. A
      year ago today, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan held a news conference in Lahore, Pakistan, and promised to work out their differences at the bargaining table.

      But soon the Pakistani Army apparently supported an infiltration of forces into the Indian-held part of Kashmir, a Himalayan territory that both countries claim, provoking an armed conflict there last summer
      that replaced the nascent good will between the two nations with bitter mistrust.

      If Mr. Clinton is hoping to persuade India to return to negotiations with Pakistan, he is likely to be disappointed. Once burned and twice shy, India is unwilling to talk until it is convinced that Pakistan is
      no longer sponsoring attacks on Indian forces in Kashmir, which India sees as terrorism.

      The Indians contend that a presidential visit to Pakistan would legitimize and prolong a military dictatorship that they say is using Islamic militants to intensify its proxy war against India in Kashmir.

      Every few days, several Indian soldiers and policemen are killed in Kashmir by militants, which India says is evidence of Pakistan's continuing bad faith.

      Some experts on the region also worry that Mr. Clinton is overestimating the power of his personality to get the two sides
      talking again.

      "The president may not get the message how committed the Pakistani Army leadership is to fomenting violent insurgency in Kashmir and how readily Pakistani leaders in the past have told Americans what they want to hear, only to take advantage of their na´vetÚ later," said George Perkovich, a security analyst and the author of "India's Nuclear Bomb" (University of California, 1999).

      The military government has not given ground on the major American concerns: a timetable for the return of democracy, a crackdown on
      terrorists operating in Pakistan and help in persuading Pakistan's allies who control much of Afghanistan, the Taliban, to turn over Osama bin Laden, the terrorism suspect who is believed to be living there.

      And the Harakat ul-Mujahedeen, or Fighters Movement, is still functioning in Pakistan. American officials say the group, which is on
      the State Department's list of terrorist organizations, was behind the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in December,

      Asked about the group, Javed Jabbar, a close friend and adviser to Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's military ruler, said: "The acts of particular individuals who may do certain things do not necessarily reflect a particular organization's conscious policy. To focus on that while ignoring the state terrorism of 500,000 Indian troops in Kashmir
      is so disparate."

      Pakistani officials and some experts argue that a Clinton visit to Pakistan is essential if he is serious about trying to further the cause of peace because there are two adversaries and it makes no sense
      to talk to only one of them.

      Pakistan's military leaders, like their civilian predecessors, have sought to put Kashmir at the center of the international agenda. Earlier this month, the general went to Muzaffarabad, capital of the
      Pakistani-held part of Kashmir, and gave a fiery speech in support of the militants fighting Indian rule on the other side of the "line of control" that divides the territory.

      But the Indians recently ruled out once again the proposal long put forward by Pakistan to have the United States or the United Nations mediate the conflict. And Mr. Clinton said he would not press for that
      without an invitation from both sides.

      Despite the many difficulties, Stephen P. Cohen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Mr. Clinton should open lines of communication to the general that would be important if India and Pakistan end up in an armed conflict.

      "The Indians will resent this," Mr. Cohen said, "but they should resent even more the long delay in going to their country. Hopefully they'll be polite hosts."

      Pakistani officials and intellectuals warn that a presidential snub of their country, an old cold war ally, would enrage Islamic militants and weaken secular-minded modernizers in the army, making conflict with
      India more likely.

      "It would certainly strengthen those forces in our society that are extremist and skeptical of the United States," Mr. Jabbar said.

      The Pakistanis' willingness to b*****sh the specter of a nuclear-armed Pakistan threatened by rising Islamic fundamentalism and weakened by a deeply troubled economy irritates Indians, who see it as a kind of blackmail.

      But some American diplomats find the specter real and frightening.

      "There's been an element of rhetorical blackmail, but these concerns are real," said a senior administration official. "This is a country with a demonstrated nuclear capacity that has increasing concerns about
      terrorist organizations, about jihad, about sectarian violence."

      As things stand now, it does not appear likely that the president will collect any easy victory in either country on issues of war and peace.
      He has hoped that both countries will sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a step that Washington says would slow the nuclear arms race here, but neither country seems inclined to do so.

      The Hindu nationalist-led government of India, which sought no national consensus before it tested nuclear weapons in May 1998, insists that it must build just such a consensus now before it signs the treaty.

      Nonetheless, Mr. Clinton has decided that it is in American interests to engage India, a democracy that is home to one-sixth of humanity, on issues ranging from the environment to trade.

      "It would be stupid of the United States to ignore India's potential economically, or its role in dealing with global problems," said an American diplomat. "It would not serve our purpose well if we shunned
      India or sent it to the gulag of bad-boy nations."

      Now Mr. Clinton will have to make similar calculations about Pakistan.

      "Everyone recognizes that this is a close call," said an administration official.


        Jim Mann wries in Los Angeles Times:

        Will the Clinton administration give India the recognition it deserves as an Asian power?

        For more than a year, the administration has been planning a presidential trip to both India and Pakistan. These plans were upset by the recent coup in Pakistan, which made a stopover there less palatable.
        Old-style Washington thinking says that India and Pakistan are so linked to each other that the president has to stop in both countries or neither of them. But India is too big and important to be slighted in this fashion. No American president has visited India since Jimmy Carter in 1978; a new presidential visit is long overdue. If Clinton can make a trip to China but not Japan, can't he visit India but not Pakistan?


          I am not so interested in Clinton's visit to Pakistan, but more interested in what he is going to talk about.

          Fata Morgana


            Once Clinton is in India he will be pro-indian after he lands in Pakistan he will be pro-pakistani, so don't expect anything good from him. The problem of Kashmir will not solve even if clinton himself comes with his great forces because there will be no arms buyers once if the Kashmir problem is solved. The visit of the President to India will only be a formality like the other Presidents and Prime ministers of the world.