Saturday, June 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Let peace not be hostage: Advani
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chicago, June 13
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today called upon Pakistan to discuss issues and hammer out the differences, so that the killing of innocent persons is stopped immediately. “Let peace not be a hostage to our resolution of differences”.

Speaking on “Democracies against terrorism” from the platform of Chicago Council on Foreign Relations here last evening, Mr Advani said the basic difference was that Pakistan considered Partition in 1947 as “necessary and inevitable but fundamentally incomplete (without the incorporation of Muslim-majority Kashmir), India regarded it as unnecessary and tragic but fundamentally complete”.

“When talks are held to discuss issues, there has to be a compromise requiring give and take on both sides”. He reiterated that the initiative, third in a series, taken by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, needed a positive response from Pakistan.

The council President, Mr Marshall M. Bouton, welcomed Mr Advani and introduced him to the august audience. Established in 1922, the Council is a forum for public learning about global issues and a contributor to national and international opinion and policy formation.

Mr Advani said India would have dealt with cross-border terrorism with relative ease had it been from only a few non-state terrorist organisations. But here it is sponsored as state terrorism from across the border since 1980. No civilised state can justify support to terrorism which involves killing of innocent women, children and men in thousands.

Unlike his Wednesday address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, where stress was more on economic issues, Mr Advani today kept the focus on Pakistan. He asked how Kashmir could be made a central point to justify killing of innocent in the name of “freedom struggle”. He blamed jehadis for these killings. “India has the largest population of Muslims after Indonesia and yet not a single Muslim from India has become a jehadi”. This was because India, like Pakistan, was not a Theocratic state. India was a secularly democratic state and would remain so, he emphasised.

After paying tributes to Swami Vivekananda, who participated in the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago 110 years ago, Mr Advani referred to the Indo-US relations and identified three factors as to why the two had become the main targets of attacks by terrorists. One, both were democracies. While democracy offered choice, terrorism sought to coerce. Two, both had open societies. This was alien to terrorists. Three, both were plural societies, which ensured freedom of faith to the citizens.

India was in a difficult terrain. On its North were Maoist insurgents in Nepal. This had implications for India as the border between the two was open. On the East, insurgent groups from India found sanctuary in Bangladesh and Myanmar and received support from other elements there. India was cautiously optimistic of the peace process in Sri Lanka.

“This terror net-work spreads beyond India’s immediate neighbourhood. Groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan have operational links with terrorist outfits in the Middle-East and South-East Asia. There are also reports of contacts between Maoists and Shining Path guerrillas in South America. “We are truly faced with the threat of global terrorism”.

Digressing from the prepared text, Mr Advani talked of the menace of terrorism in Punjab and how it was overcome. “Today, Punjab is more normal than the rest of the country. One day J and K would also be normal”. Therefore, once a “tactical nuisance”, terrorism today was a “strategic threat”. In this backdrop India-US strategic partnership was imperative. He justified invoking POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) and said it was fashioned on the pattern of the US Patriot Act.

Mr Advani called for closer collaboration between India and the USA for global peace and stability. That was one reason why India was signatory to all 12 international agreements on terrorism okayed at the 51st session of the UN General Assembly. The two countries had worked close to produce a jointly acceptable draft, which had the support of the G-8, the European Union and several Asian countries. “India-US relations are not ad hoc but based on principles and values”. India was central to the balance of power in Asia. It is important to win the war of ideas. 

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