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Stop terrorism, Bush tells Musharraf

TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ MONDAY, MAY 27, 2002  2:01:03 AM ]

WASHINGTON: Employing the most direct language on the issue to date, US President George Bush on Sunday bluntly asked Pakistan's military leader Pervez Musharraf to show results in "stopping terrorism" against India.
There was no finessing or fudging the issue as Bush, for the first time, implicated Islamabad on charges of fomenting terrorism, something the US had been shy of doing in public.

Asked about the latest Pakistani missile tests at a press conference in Paris, Bush told reporters that more than the tests, he wanted Musharraf "to show results, in terms of stopping people from crossing the Line of Control, stopping terrorism."

Bush's sharp remark means not only has the U.S repudiated the Pakistani claim of non-involvement in stoking the insurrection in Kashmir, it has accused Pakistan of actively promoting terrorism, a charge that India has long made without getting endorsement from Washington.

In a separate interview on CNN, Secretary of State Colin Powell, long considered sympathetic to the Pakistani dictator because of the role Musharraf professed to be playing in the US war on terrorism, also distanced himself from the Pakistani dictator.

In place of the repeated certificates he issued to Musharraf for "cooperating" on the issue of terrorism, there was a distinct note of scepticism in Powell's remarks Sunday.

Asked about the steps against infiltration Musharraf claims to have now taken, Powell essayed a healthy dose of disbelief saying "We've to watch and see (if there are steps) that all of us can see, especially the Indians can see..."

At another point, he was openly dismissive of Musharraf's words, saying "we appreciate the assurances, but the only thing that matters is the infiltration should stop."

Powell said Musharraf was saying he is taking steps to stop the infiltration, but the US is "not satified that we've seen that yet."

While Musharraf's loss of credibility with the US was evident in the remarks of both Bush and Powell, Washington was also incensed over Pakistan's serial missile testing, especially the timing of the tests and the fact that it comes on the eve of the visits to the region of several western interlocutors trying to talk sense to Islamabad.

US officials in fact appeared to appreciate the fact that New Delhi had taken the missile tests calmly.

"India has taken it in its stride...the Indians are not intimidated," Powell said, when asked if Islamabad was trying to intimidate India with the tests.

Powell issued a veiled warning to Pakistan not to push its luck on the premise that because U.S soldiers were in the region, India would not do anything. Although the warning was directed at both countries, it was implicitly meant for Islamabad since the US presence in the region is, if anything, inhibiting India from pursuing the military option.

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