Hindu Vivek Kendra
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No US mediation in Kashmir, No F-16s to Pakistan

No US mediation in Kashmir, No F-16s to Pakistan

Author: Pioneer News Service/New Delhi
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: November 13, 2001

The flow of discouraging news for Pakistan from Washington continued with United States (US) Secretary of State Colin Powell ruling out supply of F-16s to Islamabad as also any role as "mediator" in the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

Mr Powell reiterated the well established American position that it would all it could to help India and Pakistan restart talks, but did not see a role beyond that.

Reports from Pakistan suggested that Islamabad had sought to read a deeper meaning into President George W Bush's statement that the US would like the "wishes" of the people of Kashmir to be taken into account.

That the US President was not stepping outside of established policy was made evident by Mr Powell who said in the course of a Meet the Press programme on NBC, that Pakistan and India need to enter talks over Kashmir region, but the United States would not play a key role in settling the dispute.

"To the extent that the United States could be helpful in fostering this dialogue, fine, but we cannot become the mediator, or the arbitrator or the intermediary between them," Mr Powell said. Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf had said Mr Bush has promised to facilitate any talks, and maybe pursue the Indian leadership to initiate such a dialogue. It would appear that the interpretation had a heavy overdose of "spin."

Mr Powell also pointed out that even though Pakistan is a close ally in the US' war on terrorism, the Bush Administration does not propose to transfer American F-16 fighter jets bought by Islamabad years ago. "There are no plans now to transfer those airplanes to Pakistan," said Mr Powell.

Pakistan bought two dozen of the fighter jets in the 1980s, but the purchase was blocked by the US Congress because of Pakistan's program to develop nuclear weapons.

The US Secretary of State said that Washington has a new military dialogue with Pakistan "but at the moment it does not include the transfers of those F-16s." The US has already compensated Pakistan for the planes, Mr Powell said.

Gen Musharraf had said on Sunday that the US refusal sell the fighter jets has been "received negatively" by citizens in his country. "This is one issue held very much against the United States," he said on Fox News Sunday. Mr Powell's forthright comments blunted Gen Musharraf's statement in a separate programme on NBC TV claiming that Mr Bush has "promised to facilitate the process of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad." Gen Musharraf said, "To that extent, he (Bush} has promised he would like to facilitate a process, may be persuade the Indian leadership to initiate a process of dialogue." Mr Powell said there were "limits" to such facilitation. When pointedly asked whether the US would like to get involved in a settlement on Kashmir, Mr Powell said, "The two sides have to settle that. There needs to be a dialogue between Pakistan and India."

Gen Musharraf's high-pitched Kashmir campaign saw him levelling several charges against India. He said on the television programme that except for the October 1 attack on the legislative Assembly in Srinagar which he condemned, "the other acts which India attributed to terrorists were really committed by the Indian intelligence service which then blamed it on terrorists."

Gen Musharraf confirmed he has asked Mr Bush for F-16 fighter aircraft for which Pakistan had placed a contract but which the US refused to deliver because of nuclear sanctions.

Mr Powell further made it clear that the point had been conveyed quite unequivocally made to Gen Musharraf. "I think he (Musharraf) would like us to transfer them. We had a fairly candid discussion. He and President Bush had a candid discussion but there are no plans," he said.

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