Friday, May 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Vajpayee flays West’s doublespeak
T.R. Ramachandran and Agencies

Berlin, May 29
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today sharply attacked western nations for adopting double standards in measuring terrorism even as he hoped that his fresh peace initiative would inspire Islamabad to stop cross-border terrorism and dismantle terrorists infrastructure.

“India has suffered both from terrorism and the consequences of double standards applied by the West to deal with terrorism in various places,” he said at his meeting with German parliamentarians here.

Underlining the importance of Germany and acting on its understanding of India’s global presence, Mr Vajpayee hoped that his fresh political initiative of extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan will “inspire action to end cross-border terrorism and dismantle the infrastructure to support it.”

Even as India encouraged its friends and partners “to bring to bear their influence to make this happen,” Mr Vajpayee emphasised that New Delhi continued to deal with the specific problem of cross-border terrorism. At the same time, he was keeping his fingers crossed that his renewed peace efforts would lead to a “process leading to peace, friendship and cooperation between our two countries.”

Addressing German parliamentarians here last night, Mr Vajpayee warned that democratic societies seeking peace, protecting freedom, permitting dissent and valuing consensus had become the main targets of international terrorism. “The global reach of terrorism requires a global and comprehensive effort to counter it.”

As partners in the international coalition against terrorism, India and Germany should recognise that “success against terrorism will depend on how well we have learnt this lesson.”

He said the second aspect was that “we should not and cannot and should not negotiate with terrorism.” Mr Vajpayee drew pointed attention to recent global developments and said it had become imperative to evolve a cooperative multi-polar world order which would promote the ethic of pluralism and consensus by protecting the legitimate interests and aspirations of its constituent elements.

In this context he welcomed the unanimous agreement in the United Nations of moving forward in Iraq. Recent events had again underlined that the United Nations and its organisations needed to be made more reflective of modern political realities.

The Prime Minister said India had proved that democracy based on universal adult franchise could succeed or survive in a poor country with high illiteracy where most people had never voted before. “We have regularly changed governments through a peaceful, non-violent expression of popular will. As I look around at the functioning of real and sham democracies around the world, I sometimes feel that the enormity of India’s achievements in this direction is not appreciated.”

Speaking about the economic reforms and liberalisation policies in India, Mr Vajpayee said the bilateral trade with Germany of $ 5 billion was nowhere near its true potential. German companies had not exploited India’s potential bio-technology market of 2.2 billion euros or of the synergies available in advanced areas of biotechnology research and development. “We welcome more cooperation in research and technology, including commercialisation of technologies like solar refrigeration. Simultaneously, objective conditions exist for transforming this potential into the reality of a strategic partnership,” he added.


PM clarifies on ‘retirement’

Munich, May 29
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee remained stoic in setting at rest the controversy whipped up by his assertion in an interview to a German magazine that if his last peace initiative with Pakistan failed, “then I have to accept defeat...then I retire.” Asked for a clarification immediately on landing here this afternoon, Mr Vajpayee said: “Maine apne liye kiya tha” (I used it for myself.) This cryptic remark without elaboration came when an accompanying mediaperson asked him, “You had used the word retire in an interview. Was it in the context of India-Pakistan relations..?” Immediately thereafter Mr Vajpayee drove away in a motorcade with a wry smile.

It is apparent that efforts to put Indo-Pak relations on an even keel to reduce tension between the two neighbours are not going to fade away irrespective of the outcome of next year’s general election. Clearly, Mr Vajpayee provided the necessary food for thought to mediapersons about the context compelling him to make such an observation which is perceived as retiring from the political scene.

Senior officials and aides accompanying the Prime Minister refused to clarify the situation stressing there was nothing to explain or to put things in proper perspective. Implicit in their interface with mediapersons was that the Prime Minister had not said anything which alluded to whipping up a controversy.

Nevertheless, Mr Vajpayee had said back home that he was making one last attempt to mend Indo-Pak relations which had touched an all-time low.

The Prime Minister’s straight laced comment to a question on the “retire” issue has seemingly queered the situation further. Mr Vajpayee, however, remained unperturbed.

Telephone calls are being made between India and Germany seeking the true meaning and intent of Mr Vajpayee’s remarks with television channels and other media organisations playing up this aspect. TNS 

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