Saturday, September 9, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM exposes Pak doublespeak
Asks international community to see reality
From Hari Jaisingh

NEW YORK, Sept 8 — The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, castigated Pakistan today for its relentless cross-border terrorism and doublespeak and rejected Islamabad’s plea for an unconditional dialogue as “terrorism and dialogue do not go together.”

Dismissing the Pakistan chief executive Gen Pervez Musharraf’s speech as an “Orwellian mockery,” Mr Vajpayee was severe in his criticism of the military ruler and made a stirring appeal to the international community to see through Islamabad’s machination of sponsoring cross border terrorism in the name of Jehad.

In his address to the United Nations millennium summit, Mr Vajpayee underlined the urgent need for united global action to tackle the increasing menace of cross-border terrorism. He drew pointed attention to the imperatives of implementing the comprehensive convention against terrorism to be negotiated at the U N General Assembly later this year.

Providing an overview of the general situation in South Asia, Mr Vajpayee said, without naming Gen Musharraf that “those who had stifled democracy at home now speak of freedom from this forum. Those who have engaged in the clandestine acquisition of nuclear weapons and delivery systems talk of ridding South Asia of these. Those who had repudiated solemn covenants talk of new agreements to prevent war,” he observed.

In one of his sharpest attacks against Pakistan in any international forum, the Prime Minister stressed that the “world must see the reality as it is. The acid test of sincerity is not words but deeds. Terrorism and dialogue do not go together.”

He said it was ironic that the authors of a vicious terrorist campaign which had claimed more than 30,000 innocent lives in India were offering dialogue after sabotaging a historic peace initiative. Mr Vajpayee was alluding to his government’s positive response to the ceasefire offered by the dominant Kashmiri militant organisation Hizbul Mujahideen in July which was scuttled by Pakistan.

Mr Vajpayee was responding to Gen Musharraf’s speech at the United Nations millennium summit two days back when he accused India of not responding to his offer of unconditional talks. Gen Musharraf impressed upon the US President Mr Bill Clinton, to adopt a stronger method of pressurising India to return to the negotiating table.

This is the first time in recent years that India’s head of government has sought to challenge, criticise and rebut the statements of Pakistani leaders who have always sought to internationalise the Kashmir problem. New Delhi has invariably chosen its own line and approach completely ignoring the shrill rhetoric of Pakistani leaders like the deposed Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Vajpayee has clearly sought to create international opinion against Pakistan for its cross-border terrorism by responding to the points made by Gen Musharraf at the United Nations this time. A few paragraphs were woven into the Prime Minister’s speech aboard Air India one during its flight from Zurich to New York yesterday.

The Prime Minister began his day by signing the Convention on the Suppression of Financing Terrorism. India has been in the forefront for concerted and united action against cross-border terrorism and pushed for a measure banning the financing of terrorism.

About the nuclear issue, the Prime Minister said India was forced to acquire nuclear weapons in 1998 because the major nuclear powers refused to accept the universal demand for nuclear disarmament. Besides, the spread of nuclear weapons in India’s neighbourhood had made the country especially vulnerable.

He assured the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, and the assembled galaxy of leaders that India would maintain voluntary moratorium on further underground nuclear tests. On the CTBT, he said India remained committed to working for a successful conclusion of its security dialogue with key interlocutors. He was emphatic that India will not prevent the coming into force of the CTBT.

Mr Vajpayee pressed India’s claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. As the world’s largest democracy, a rapidly growing economic power and a major contributor to peace-keeping operations, India has a natural claim for a seat in the Security Council.

On the challenges confronting the global community, the Prime Minister underlined the need for a fresh initiative and strategy to fight the scourge of poverty. He called for a high-level U N conference on economic development, growth and distribution.

He said multipolarity would be a critical factor in the emerging world order of the 21st century. Globalisation had given birth to an ever-increasing web of interdependent economies linked by trade and commerce, apart from unprecedented flow of capital across borders, backed by the information technology revolution.

Within hours of landing in New York yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister addressed a meeting of the Asia Society in the evening and launched a frontal attack against Pakistan for disguising the attack on Indian civil society as Jehad.

He recalled his bus yatra to Lahore in February last year to forge better relations in the Indian subcontinent and said the rulers of Pakistan responded within a few months by mounting a military invasion in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir aimed at changing the status of the Line of Control (LoC). India vacated the intrusion which resulted in Pakistan suffering a military and diplomatic defeat.

Further, Mr Vajpayee said instead of heeding international opinion and responding to New Delhi’s effort to normalise relations Pakistan had removed the last vestiges of democracy and embarked upon a more adventurous course of increasing its terrorist campaign.

“Pakistan’s painful record of its cross-border terrorism campaign was reflected in the hijack of an Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandahar in December last year, the massacre of 40 Indians during Mr Clinton’s visit to India in March and the carnage on July 31 and August 1 in Pahalgam which left more than 100 men, women and children dead whose purpose was to scuttle the nascent peace process in Kashmir,” Mr Vajpayee recounted.

He said in the face of extreme provocation by Pakistan, India has shown patience and restraint. “Unfortunately Pakistan has misread our generosity of spirit and our desire for friendly relations as weakness. It has consciously opted to pursue the path of hostility by promoting terrorism in different parts of India.”

Explaining the rationale behind India’s policy of having a credible minimum nuclear deterrent, Mr Vajpayee said: This will not change till the weapons of mass destruction are dismantled. “Our experience has taught us that to defend peace, we have to be strong.”

“Considering the circumstances, we exercised our nuclear option. Our decision was as much influenced by national security concerns as to assert our objection to nuclear apartheid.”

At the same time he emphasised that India’s decision to acquire a credible minimum nuclear deterrent had not deflected it from the belief that peace between nations in this new century was best guaranteed by nuclear disarmament. What he found disturbing was the lack of inclination on the part of the nuclear club having huge stockpiles and delivery systems to turn their swords into ploughshares.

Mr Vajpayee said India’s security, stability and prosperity were central to democracy and prosperity in Asia. “Our strength and unity will be vital to the stability of Asia. The initiatives taken to uphold all that India values and symbolises will not threaten but strengthen the future of others,” he added.

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