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Pakistan Angry About US Terror Criticism - 2003-01-24


Pakistan government officials are angry about the latest U.S. call for them to end terrorism inside the country. Islamabad says the United States should not criticize one of its strongest allies in the war against terrorism.

Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed says Pakistan is one of the top supporters of the U.S. led global war against terrorism. He says that because of this policy, his government has come under fire from opposition and religious parties in Pakistan.

Mr. Rashid tells VOA that the problems the outside world sees in Pakistan arise from its role in fighting terrorism and not from supporting it. "You know we are facing so many problems domestically because we have to support [the campaign] against the terrorism," he said. "And we are very clear and we said many times that there is no way that we are going to support any terrorist activity anywhere in Pakistan. And the time will prove that we are the one who supported against terrorism."

Mr. Rashid was responding to comments made by U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Nancy Powell, on Thursday. Speaking to business executives, Ms. Powell said Pakistan must fulfill its promise to stop being a "platform for terrorism" and prevent militants from crossing into Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The minister denies the allegation, saying the struggle in the disputed region is "purely indigenous."

President Pervez Musharraf last year promised the United States that he would end incursions into Indian-Kashmir - easing crisis-level tensions with India.

India recently accused Pakistan of reneging on that promise.

But Information Minister Rashid says the United States should press New Delhi to accept Pakistan's calls for dialogue on Kashmir.

The two countries have fought two wars over Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region divided between India and Pakistan.

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