Miliband slammed for Kashmir remark (Lead)

January 15th, 2009 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 15 (IANS) British Foreign Secretary David Miliband was described as shallow and ignorant after saying Thursday the Kashmir dispute must be solved because the Pakistan-based terror outfit Laskher-e-Taiba “says its cause is Kashmir”.The aims of the LeT, blamed for the Mumbai terror attacks, were much wider than Kashmir, a critic pointed out.

Miliband - now on a three-day visit to India - wrote in The Guardian newspaper Thursday that the War on Terror was “misleading and mistaken” because it failed to take into account the different motives of various terror groups.

The British minister said that a “resolution of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms, and allow Pakistani authorities to focus more effectively on tackling the threat on their western borders”.

Columnist Melanie Phillips wrote: “This is an astounding error for the British foreign secretary to make… There is indeed a unified transnational enemy and it is the Islamic global jihad.

“To say that Lashker-e-Taiba’s cause is merely Kashmir… is simply risible,” she wrote on the online edition of The Spectator magazine.

“As LeT has itself said, its goal is the restoration of Islamic rule over the whole of South Asia, Russia and China. It wants to destroy India and wipe out both Hinduism and Judaism. Backed in part by Saudi financing, it derives its ideology from the Wahhabi strain of Islam which gave birth to Al Qaeda and accordingly has declared the United States, Israel and India as existential enemies of Islam.”

Phillips said Miliband’s comments display “a deeply alarming level of shallowness and ignorance”.

“…Miliband’s error lies in the deeper point he is making that the military approach to dealing with global Islamist terrorism is wrong. He reveals in this a profound failure to understand the nature of this global threat. He thinks it’s all about local ‘grievances’ and therefore can be dealt with by negotiation, compromise and arresting people and bringing them to justice rather than waging war upon them.

“Although his argument is a general one, he specifically mentions Mumbai and Gaza; indeed, I guess that it is Gaza that is really on his mind,” she added.

Phillips said Miliband showed that “Britain is currently the weakest link in the war to defend civilisation”.

In his article, Miliband said the phrase ‘war on terror’ implied that the correct response to terrorism was “primarily military” but that US General David Petraeus had “told me and others in Iraq the coalition there could not kill its way out of the problems of insurgency and civil strife”.

Phillips dismissed Miliband’s suggestion that “the best antidote to the terrorist threat in the long term is cooperation,” saying: “Does he really think we should be sending out the police to arrest Osama bin Laden?”

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