Secretary of State Colin Powell is in India today. As the US attacks on Afghanistan intensify, Powell is trying to shore up support from Pakistan and India, intense rivals over the Kashmir territory, for the US military campaign .
At a news conference in New Delhi after meetings with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Foreign Secretary Jaswant Singh, Powell said the US and India are united in their opposition to terrorism, and also condemned terrorist attacks by Islamic militants in Indian-held Kashmir. After two days of fighting in Kashmir, Powell is urging India and Pakistan to start talking again about settling the decades-old Kashmir problem.
Tensions between Pakistan and India have increased since a car bomb exploded in Srinagar, killing more than 30 people. India says it was firing on Islamic militants trying to cross from Pakistan to commit terrorist attacks in Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan accused Indian forces of killing a woman and injuring 25 other civilians. India refuses to accept outside involvement in efforts to resolve the dispute, and Powell made no offer to mediate.
Many in India believe that because Pakistan is co-operating with Washington’s efforts in Afghanistan, the United States is turning a blind eye to the Kashmiri separatist groups based in Pakistan.
After Powell said that the aspirations of the Kashmiri people need to be recognized, the Indian Foreign Ministry responded by saying the problems in the disputed territory were cased by state-sponsored terrorism.
- Sputnik Kilambi, Free Speech Radio News Reporter in New Delhi