Post-Iraq, Advani will pressure US on Pakistan in June
By Mahendra Ved
NEW DELHI: Called off last year, Deputy Prime Minister Advani’s visit to the US is now scheduled for June. Dealing with Kashmir crisis is expected to be the principal issue that he will discuss with the American leadership.
With the military campaign in Iraq expected to be over well before that, India expects the US to be less ambiguous and more pro-active than it presently is on the issue, informed sources said.
While Advani has cancelled his visit to Mauritius later this month, the US visit, planned well in advance, has been confirmed, official sources said. This will be Advani’s second official visit to the US and the first as DPM. There are high prospects of his meeting President Bush and other top officials vice-president Dick Cheney, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of state Colin Powell and others with all of whom he had held discussions early last year.
A follow-up visit, however, was called off last summer. The US leaders were preoccupied and the Indian side also thought it prudent to cancel the visit with the turmoil in Gujarat giving the Vajpayee government a bad media. Advani himself was sought to be criticised by Indian Muslims settled in the US and the UK. This time around, the Americans can be seen as wooing an Indian hardliner on the war against terrorism. On Iraq too, while the Vajpayee government refused to condemn the US-led military action, Advani went on record criticising Baghdad’s failure to fully abide by the UN Security Council’s resolution on destroying weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
Since the first visit, the American FBI has marked its presence in India and there have been tangible results for India in that five criminals wanted in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blast case have been repatriated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
However, India wants concrete results on the 20 persons it wants and who are hiding in Pakistan. Post-Iraq, India hopes the US may be in a better position to decide its course with Pakistan in relation to both Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Sources said India does not doubt the US resolve to fight international terrorism. Earlier this week, it was reaffirmed with regard to J&K by assistant secretary of state Christina Rocca before the US Congressional sub-committee on Asia-Pacific. However, India wants to make Washington aware of its disappointment with regard to the absence of any results on the ground, the sources said.
Advani will head a team of officials, including home secretary N Gopalaswami, Intelligence Bureau director K P Singh and senior external affairs ministry officials.Besides washington, Advani is slated to visit Chicago and Los Angeles and interact with Indian settlers in these and other cities.
He is also likely to address major American think-tanks on various issues of Indo-US relations, the sources said. —TNN