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January 28, 2000
US anxious about Pak patronage of Kashmiri ultras
The Clinton administration has expressed 'concern' at the support Pakistani government agencies extend to militant groups active in Kashmir. The administration said the US could declare a country a sponsor of terrorism if it "repeatedly provided direct support" to international terrorism.
State Department spokesman James Rubin, who made this observation in reply to a question on Thursday, said the US had not designated Pakistan as a terrorist state.
Asked whether it was "veiled threat" to Pakistan, he said, "No, that's a comment about the realities".
President Clinton is expected to decide soon whether he will include Pakistan in his proposed visit to India and Bangladesh in March.
Rubin said, "We do believe that agencies of the Pakistani government have provided general support to a number of groups active in Kashmir, including the Harkat ul-Mujahideen. That is a matter of extreme concern to us. That is an outfit we have declared a terrorist organisation and there have been some links providing general support to a number of groups operating in Kashmir, including this one."
Rubin said this was one issue Karl Inderfurth, assistant secretary of state, and Michael Sheehan, the co-ordinator of the department's office to counter terrorism, had raised during their meeting in Islamabad last week with Pakistani leaders, including its military ruler General Pervez musharraf.
"I think it's fair to say we have a long way to go in... having Pakistan address our concerns," he said.
Rubin said the officials believed that they got a full hearing. Pakistan had told them about the difficulties involved in acting against organisations like HUM. The Pakistani leadership "took on board our very clear indications of what we needed to see happen," he said.
The spokesman however said, "We have not received a formal yes or no. They have not yet done what we have been asking.''
Earlier, in a statement, the United States deplored General Musharraf's order asking Pakistan's sitting judges to sign loyalty oaths to the regime.
The chief justice and five other supreme court justices who refused to swear to the oath have been forced to quit the bench. Other appeals court judges have also refused to take the oath.
It said that General Musharraf's move undermined the integrity and independence of the judiciary in Pakistan by forcing judges to uphold the order that would place Pakistan's constitution in abeyance.
"General Musharraf has removed his actions from judicial review," it said.
"The military-backed government, in their view, now can act without facing such review. This is contrary to the path of restoration of civilian rule the general pledged to follow when he took power in October, and his promise at that time to respect the constitutional order and human rights in Pakistan.
"This development only reinforces the view we share with much of the international community that General Musharraf needs to make clear... how he intends to return Pakistan to an elected government with a functioning legislature and an independent judiciary under a democratic constitution," the statement said.
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