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 Politics & Policy  COLIN POWELL VISITS PAKISTAN
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Politics & Policy

Colin Powell visits Pakistan

Endorsed Pakistan's stance that the issue of Kashmir is "central" to relations between Pakistan and India.

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Oct 22 - 28, 2001

Though US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Pakistan and India in a whirlwind fashion last week yet it significantly ratified Pakistan's point of view regarding Kashmir dispute as a core issue between Pakistan and India.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has endorsed Pakistan's stance that the issue of Kashmir is "central" to relations between Pakistan and India.

"We too believe the Kashmir issue is central to the relationship. He also indicated the willingness of the US to play a 'role' in the resolution of differences between India and Pakistan.

Mr. Powell said that his discussion with President Musharraf had addressed the need to promote stability in South Asia, which he described as a critically important part of the world. The Kashmir dispute could be resolved if 'all parties' engaged with a willingness to address their concerns in mutually acceptable ways. "Issues must be resolved through peaceful political and diplomatic means and not through violence," Colin Powell observed.

Highly disturbed on the statement of Colin Powell, Indian leadership has contradicted the remarks made by US Secretary of State. The Indian foreign office says that terrorism is sponsored by Pakistan in Kashmir, while Kashmir itself was not the problem.

The US Secretary however snubbed with a blunt remark "Nonsense" to a loaded question asked by an Indian journalist that Pakistan can attack on India with what he called 'Islamic bomb' developed by Pakistan.

The events of September 11 will have repercussions for the economy and it was imperative that the country received adequate support from the international community to face the new challenges without undermining its reforms efforts.

The Secretary of State has shown understanding of the challenges and has promised the support of their government to meet them.

Pakistan has also underscored the issue of sustainability of Pakistan's debt burden. It is imperative that the burden is lessened by the international community through a meaningful debt relief packages so that Pakistan gains the required fiscal space for increasing allocations on social development and poverty reduction programmes.

The government has also underlined the need for expeditious support from the international community for the refugees as winter approaches in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is expecting larger influx of refugees in Pakistan. Pakistan would not be able to handle this problem at its own and it expects the necessary assistance in meeting the needs of the refugees.

Apart from assurance for economic assistance, the acknowledgment of Pakistan's position on Kashmir as the central issue certainly a meaningful achievement for Pakistan on the international fronts. The situation calls for an effective and aggressive follow up to mould the world opinion in favour of the freedom of the people of Kashmir. Secretary Powell's statement on Kashmir issue would certainly give a direction to the Western world about Kashmir issue.

Another significant development in the wake of Powell's visit to Pakistan is the approval of bill by the US House of Representatives that gives authority to the President to waive all sanctions against Pakistan including democracy sanctions. The way is clear for the us to resume all kinds of economic and military aid to Pakistan till 2003. The bill was first rushed through the Senate proposing waiver of all tiers of sanctions, which has now also been approved by the House.

Following the approval of the legislation the US will be able to release an economic aid package for Pakistan. It is however yet to be seen how the economic aid package determines Pakistan's economic condition which are on the stake as a result of prevailing volatile conditions in this region. The US attitude towards Pakistan however has given a direction to the Western countries to help out Pakistan from Afghan war related economic problems.

European Union governments have already promised a swift signature of a new cooperation treaty with Pakistan. Financial experts feel that the member countries of Paris and London club are likely to write off bilateral debts.

Following the visit of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhart Schroeder is also arriving to Pakistan.

Afghanistan

The US-led forces have started pounding Taliban frontline position, which indicate that ground attacks sooner than later. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has also hinted for an imminent use of ground troops in Afghanistan.

The heavy air strikes being carried out by the US-led forces have provoked severe criticism against the use of power in Afghanistan.

There are reports that Taliban who were unable to respond to the air strikes are changing positions in an anticipation for a severe combat with the US-led ground forces.

Pakistan and United States have agreed on the formation of a broad-based government in Kabul having representation from the Northern Alliance as well as moderate elements within the folds of Taliban.