Monday, October 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

West has double standard on terror: PM

London, October 13
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has accused the West of having a “double standard’’ in its fight against terrorism.

Addressing a gathering of about 800 eminent persons of the Indian community on the eve of his departure from here, Mr Vajpayee said: “The West finds its terrorism more serious, not ours. It has a double standard to measure terrorism.’’

The reception in honour of the Prime Minister, who was accompanied by External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, was hosted by Indian High Commissioner Ronen Sen at Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, opposite Westminster Abbey.

During his visit to London, Mr Vajpayee met his British counterpart Tony Blair at his country home at Chequers, where they discussed issues pertaining to Iraq, Afghanistan, and bilateral ties between the two countries.

Terrorism was high on the agenda of their talks which lasted about 85 minutes.

At a press conference later, Mr Sinha said Mr Blair agreed that dialogue and terrorism could not go on side by side, referring to India’s position regarding cross-border terrorism supported by Pakistan and dialogue with the country for resolving the Kashmir issue.

During his address at the reception, the Prime Minister did not mince words in his criticism of Pakistan.

Referring to the Jammu and Kashmir elections, he said: “People defied bullets to vote. Over 800 persons there died for the right to vote. Terrorists did not want the people to decide their own destiny.’’

Regarding the terrorists, he said: “Trained and armed by the neighbour, they come and kill innocent men, women and children. They do not want democracy. Yet the neighbour calls them freedom fighters. They say they are fighting for freedom. What freedom?’’ He said the real reason behind the terrorists’ actions was that they did not want democracy.

Addressing the gathering, he asked non-resident Indians to play a greater role in the speedy development of India. “In China’s progress, non-resident Chinese have played a major role,” he pointed out.

The Prime Minister said the government was committed to remove discrimination based on caste or creed. “Everyone has the right to follow their faith. Nobody has a right to stop others from worshipping in the way they want,” he said.

The Prime Minister, who regaled the audience with his poetry, “Kadam Milake Chalna Hoga”, said while India had made giant strides in a number of spheres, it was unfortunate that the number of poor in the country had also gone up.

Regarding the long-pending British Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs) deal, Mr Sinha said the issue was raised by Mr Blair during his meeting with Mr Vajpayee last evening.

“The issue did not figure prominently but Mr Blair did make a mention of it,” Mr Sinha said while briefing reporters on the meeting. UNI, PTI


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