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India does some hard talk with Blair
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service


British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) chats with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee before a news conference in New Delhi on Saturday.— Reuters

New Delhi, October 6
India did some rare hard talk with Britain today as the Vajpayee government strongly conveyed to British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the global struggle against terrorism could not be kept confined to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban alone.

India vehemently put forth its objection to the Western approach of looking at Pakistan as a comrade in arms when that country’s track record was of exporting terrorism for nearly two decades.

Mr Blair, who arrived here last night after his Russia and Pakistan legs of foreign tour, undertaken essentially as a special envoy of US President George W. Bush, was also categorically told by the Indian leadership today that New Delhi’s interests could not be ignored in any post-Taliban arrangement in Afghanistan.

Well-placed sources in the government told TNS that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, in his one-to-one talks with Mr Blair early this morning, made it clear that the approach of Britain and the USA in confining the just-started world campaign against terrorism to Bin Laden and the Taliban was not correct.

The Indian point of view, articulated first by the Prime Minister and then in the second round of talks with Mr Blair by senior ministers like Mr L.K. Advani and Mr Jaswant Singh, was that dual, ambiguous yardsticks could not be applied in this context and that terrorism was a global phenomenon and had to be fought globally and collectively.

Referring to Pakistan repeatedly in talks with Mr Blair, the Indian leadership took exception to the USA and the UK seeking support to combat terrorism from a country which itself is the progenitor of terrorism. Mr Blair was told clearly that Pakistan’s promises of support should be taken with a lot of salt as the Musharraf regime was running with the hare and hunting with the hound. Sources said the Indian concerns were mainly confined to Pakistan, while Mr Blair seemed to be more interested in picking on the Indian brains on the post-Taliban arrangement in Afghanistan. Mr Blair completed his less than 12-hour-long India visit this morning.

Mr Vajpayee is understood to have cited two instances in his attempt to turn the West’s focus on Pakistan-aided terrorism. He told Mr Blair that there was a linkage between the December, 1999, hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar and the September 11, 2001, hijackings of four American planes and using them as bombs in the heart of America. New Delhi emphasised on pursuing this lead further as it was a very disturbing development and showed why it was absolutely necessary that terrorism had to be fought globally.

The second example cited by Mr Vajpayee was the October 1 car bomb attack outside the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in which 42 persons were killed. The Prime Minister is understood to have bluntly told his British counterpart that it was a direct attack on the very fundamentals of democracy. If as a world leader of democracy Britain did not wake up now and take note of such terrorism, when would it, the Indian argument was.

The sources said the Indian pleas, however, failed to cut much ice and Mr Blair made it known that his country and the USA were “as of now” more concerned with action against Bin Laden and the Taliban. He, however, agreed with the Indian suggestions that efforts would be made to ensure that whatever government comes in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban would not be allowed to export terrorism.

Mr Vajpayee has underscored the need for installation of a broad-based government in Afghanistan which is truly representative of the complex ethnic multiplicity of that land-locked country. The present Taliban government is Pushtoon-dominated which has bulldozed over the aspirations of sizeable and influential minorities like Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras.Back

 

Coalition should exclude Pak: PM
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 6
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was categoric in singling out Pakistan as a country pursuing a terrorist agenda and emphasised that the coalition of democracies should not allow Islamabad to continue with it while joining the U S-led fight against international terrorism.

Addressing a joint press conference here today after holding talks with visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Vajpayee, however, reaffirmed India’s whole-hearted support to bringing to justice those responsible for the airborne terrorist strikes on September 11 in the USA.

Mr Vajpayee and Mr Blair agreed that trouble-torn Afghanistan required a broad-based multi-ethnic government which was stable and did not export elements with the ideology of fanning trouble through insurgency and extremism.

On his part, Mr Blair said he supported India’s strong stand against all forms of terrorism and maintained that perpetrators of terror like the October 1 blast in Srinagar should be brought to justice. “Such outrages have no place in civilised society,” he added.

Mr Blair refused to provide a direct answer to the international coalition against terrorism taking direct help of Pakistan in bringing to book Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden even as Islamabad continued to aid and abet terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Vajpayee stressed that India would remain ever vigilant against terrorist threats and counter them decisively. It is apparent that New Delhi is conscious of the fact that it will have to deal with the scourge of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir without looking for outward assistance.

Mr Vajpayee pointed out that for over two decades now India had waged a virtually lone struggle against terrorism. He spoke of possible linkages between the hijackers of the Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandahar with those involved in the attacks on the World Trade Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. It was for this reason that terrorism could not be dealt with in a bits-and-pieces manner but globally, Prime Minister observed.

“Condoning a terrorist act in one place may lay the foundation for a far more virulent act elsewhere,” Mr Vajpayee said.Back

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