Relevant excerpts from the daily press briefing, July 17, 2002
Question: One, the situation in India or in Kashmir is not very good
now, because yesterday another incident, almost 30 or 35 were murdered in a temple. And
now the Secretary leaves soon for India and Pakistan. Do you think he's getting now
another new message, or how he is going to deal with the leaders now? Because violence is
Richard Boucher: First of all, let me make clear that we have condemned the continuing violence. We believe that the situation cannot be resolved by this kind of conflict. It's vital to all sides in Kashmir to exercise restraint, to take steps to reduce the violence, to try to help create an environment for a political process to resolve the conflict. Violence won't bring peace to Kashmir.
The US and the international community continue diplomatic efforts to encourage India and Pakistan to move away from armed conflict. As we've mentioned before, President Musharraf has assured us that infiltration across the line of control will be ended permanently. We continue to look to him to take the steps to make that effective.
Ensuring that infiltration across the line of control has ended permanently continues to be highest priority for Pakistan, and we'll continue to follow that issue closely. I would point out that since September 11th Pakistan has been and continues to be one of our foremost and indispensable allies in the war against terrorism. As President Musharraf has pointed out, Pakistan has also been a victim of terror and extremism, and together we're working on fighting the scourge.
So the issues that we look forward to discussing with India and Pakistan, I think first and foremost, the relationships that we have with each of these governments, each of these countries separately; how we work with Pakistan on its role and its position, the reforms that it's undertaking, the support that we can give to that, how we work with India on the developing relationship we have with India.
Second of all is the global fight against terrorism, where Pakistan in particular has played a role because of its proximity and the bold decisions that President Musharraf has played. And also we looked at discussing with them the relationship that they have -- the issue of Kashmir and how to continue to reduce the violence, continue to ease the tensions, and continue to end the infiltration across the line of control.
Question: Any comments or any -- and do you see any change in the State Department, or US or India policy? Recently Prime Minister Vajpayee made changes in his cabinet, especially (inaudible) foreign minister and finance minister.
Richard Boucher: We declined to get involved in anybody's internal political decisions the other day, and I'll continue to do that today.
Question: And finally, one more. Congressman Pallone has written a letter, I think including the Secretary of State and the President. He is condemning that General Musharaff is trying to change the constitution of Pakistan in order to remain in power or extend his military rule.
Richard Boucher: I don't know this particular letter.
Richard Boucher: Again, I haven't seen this particular letter. I think our position was quite clear. We stated it many times that the return to democracy in Pakistan is very important. We look to the elections that President Musharraf has announced and reconfirmed for October. We look to those to be held and to open up the democratic process as one of the steps on the road back to democracy. That remains key to us, and we think that remains key to providing Pakistan with the kind of stability that it wants over the longer term.
Question: Some Indian officials are calling for the US to list Pakistan on its state sponsors of terrorism list, claiming that Pakistan has not done enough to curb terrorism against India, and that actually infiltrations across the line of control have not subsided. Has the Indian Government asked you to make such a designation, and can you bring us up to date on Pakistan's efforts to curb infiltrations?
Richard Boucher: Well, I think first, Pakistan will have to bring you up to date on Pakistan's efforts to curb infiltration. We would say what we've said before: infiltration is down across the line of control; it needs to be made permanent; and further steps need to be taken, for example, against the camps where these people could come from. So there are more efforts required, but infiltration is down.
As far as putting Pakistan on the terrorism list, I'd just point out again Pakistan has been a very stalwart ally in the fight against terrorism. President Musharraf has announced some fairly bold measures within his own society to try to move Pakistan on a more moderate course, and our interest is in helping Pakistan move in that direction.
George, you had something?
Question: That was my question about whether or not infiltration was down. I think you omitted that in your opening remarks on this, or maybe you didn't. I don't know. You talked about a permanent end, but you didn't -- it seemed to me you hadn't repeated what you had said a month ago about infiltration being down substantially. But now you -- are you still alleging that?
Richard Boucher: Yeah, yeah. Since the commitment, the infiltration is down.