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US warns India against pre-emptive strike
Posted: Sunday, April 6, 2003

By Mariana Baabar,

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan remained silent and did not react on Saturday, when the United States sent a crystal clear message to India, saying that any attempts to draw parallels between the Iraq and the Kashmir situations are wrong and overwhelmed by the differences between them. Hence, Washington says India should not use the doctrine of pre-emptive strike upon Pakistan that it has used in Iraq.

Islamabad appeared vindicated after two days of onslaught from Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, who warned Pakistan that it too, could come under the doctrine of pre-emptive strike from India. Sinha made specific threats to use this doctrine inside Azad Kashmir to prevent more militant attacks inside occupied Kashmir.

Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmud Kasuri had already reacted angrily to Sinha's remarks and questioned India's wisdom where on the one hand it stood against the war in Iraq and on the other, threatened Pakistan under the same doctrine that the US had used on Iraq.

New Delhi appeared undeterred when ignoring the US advice, which came from US State Department spokesperson Joanne Prokopowicz, and it once again sent threats to Pakistan on Friday, this time using the local news agency, the PTI. Interestingly, Sinha had spoken about the threats to Pakistan under this doctrine on Thursday, while giving an interview to AFP in New Delhi.

Surprisingly, the Indian media blacked out this interview, picked up by the Pakistani media. So on Friday, Sinha then repeated what he had said to AFP and more to PTI, which was consequently used widely by the Indian media on Saturday.

While Islamabad appears to be waiting to hear officially from its mission in Washington before commenting, Washington in its statement, released by its spokesperson, says that even while recognising the "very serious nature" of the situation in Kashmir, the Bush administration says that attempts to draw parallels between Iraq and Kashmir are "wrong and overwhelmed by the differences" between them; and that the circumstances that made the coalition military action necessary in Iraq do not apply to the subcontinent.

The spokesperson in the States Department said: "Indian officials have recently speculated that the US pre-emptive action in Iraq could be seen as a justification of similar action by India against Pakistan over Kashmir. Any attempts to draw parallels between the Iraq and the Kashmir situations are wrong and overwhelmed by the differences between them."

The US reminded India that Iraq invaded, occupied and brutalised Kuwait in 1990. The international community came together to drive Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991. A decade earlier, Iraq attacked another neighbour Iran and used chemical weapons in that war. The Iraqi government had used chemical weapons to kill thousands of its own people, the official argued.

"The US and its coalition allies have taken action against Iraq only after 12 years of the UN Security Council resolutions, including the UNSC resolution 1441 which was passed 15 to 0, failed to achieve Iraq's disarmament. The circumstances that made coalition military action necessary in Iraq do not apply to the subcontinent and should not be considered a precedent," the official said.

The US spokesperson also said the US recognises the very serious nature of the situation in Kashmir. It recalled the joint statement last week with the United Kingdom made clear the US's repugnance at the killing of innocents that have been taking place in Kashmir with alarming frequency.

However, Sinha's remarks on Friday proved that New Delhi had completely ignored Washington's advice and was intent on upping the ante.

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