Statement by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at the 13th NAM Summit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 24, 2003
Your Royal Highnesses,
Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a number of distinguished colleagues before me have already done, I congratulate Malaysia on its assumption of the Chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement [NAM]. We are at a critical point in international relations. Perhaps we are also at a defining moment in the life of this Movement itself. We are seeking to revitalize its agenda in a global environment profoundly different from that in which it was created.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has presided over the destinies of Malaysia, as it transformed itself from underdevelopment into an economic powerhouse of South East Asia. We hope he will bring the same sure hand and deft touch to the transformation of NAM.
I would also like to warmly compliment South Africa for chairing the Movement with such distinction during a period of flux in international relations. President Mbeki has invested considerable energy in guiding the Movement towards a new equilibrium between the interests of developed and developing countries.
The tectonic shifts in international relations over the last decade have challenged NAM to adapt itself to effectively tackle the new contemporary challenges. Even while preserving independence of judgement and autonomy of action – which are its defining characteristics – NAM should take a close, hard look at the realities of today.
India has participated in the various deliberations within our Movement on the theme of its revitalisation. We believe that certain principles are fundamental to this process:
One, NAM should have a clear consensus on key issues of common concern to all of us. Multilateralism, combating global terrorism and reform of the UN system would be the political elements of this agenda. Developmental issues, democratisation of international financial institutions, constructive North-South engagement and South-South cooperation would be its main economic planks.
Two, NAM should concentrate on issues that unite, rather than divide us. In a Movement of one hundred and sixteen members, it is inevitable that there are some differences or even disputes among us. We would be losing time, energy and focus if we involved ourselves in these issues. This principle is accepted in the Charters and practice of successful organizations like the OIC and ASEAN. NAM’s outlook and its agenda have to be global.
Three, in projecting our view on global issues, our tone has to be objective and pragmatic. We should position NAM as a major pole in a multi-polar configuration.
Four, we should use cooperation between ourselves as an effective tool to promote our national development. South-South cooperation has to move from the political lectern to the economic marketplace.
Five, NAM should develop a progressive agenda on the fundamental values of democracy, human rights and multiculturism. The preservation and consolidation of democracy throughout our membership is a major challenge.
The threat of global terrorism presents our Movement with an immediate test of its commitment to its core principles. It is imperative that we take a clear and unequivocal stand on this scourge. There can be no double standards, no confusion between terrorism and freedom struggles, and no implicit condoning of terrorism through an investigation of its ‘root causes’. There can be no justification for terrorism. No political, ideological, religious or ethnic grounds can justify the shedding of the blood of innocent people.
We should finally conclude the negotiations at the UN on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. It is a matter of the greatest shame to all of us that while terrorism continues to claim its victims with one brutal act after another, we cannot conclude an international agreement because we cannot find a universally acceptable definition of terrorism!
The world’s attention - like that of this Summit - is riveted on Iraq. Like every other non-aligned country, India fervently wishes for a peaceful resolution. We also support the multilateral route of the United Nations to address this issue.
But objectivity – and not rhetoric – should govern our actions. Weapons of mass destruction do need to be eliminated. It is essential that Iraq complies fully with the obligations it has accepted, including disarmament, and that it cooperates fully in implementing Security Council Resolution 1441. As a fellow member of NAM, this is our sincere advice to Iraq. We also expect that if Iraq fully complies, the sanctions against that country should be lifted.
We should also not lose sight of the humanitarian dimension of the suffering of the Iraqi people. Apart from the immediate consequences of military action, there are long-term implications for stability and security in an already volatile region.
NAM is at a historic moment in a new century. We need to introspect, take stock of our achievements as well as our failures and take concrete steps to revitalise our Movement. India is ready to play its part in this effort.
I had never intended to mention such matters at this forum, but I am constrained to respond to some allegations against India.
President Musharraf has referred to my country a little while ago. His strange logic masks Pakistan’s territorial designs on an integral part of India. He justifies terrorism against India by talking of root causes.
Does he go into the root causes of sectarian terrorism in his country? Or does he take stern action against the perpetrators of that terrorism? He talks of the "oppressed people of Kashmir". These same people very recently cast their ballots in an election universally recognized as free and fair. They defied the bullets of the terrorists, aided and abetted by Pakistan.
Those very terrorists assassinated candidates and political activists in the elections and killed women and children because they refused to provide them food and shelter. These terrorists continue to perpetrate violence against innocent civilians every day. Yet General Musharraf talks of an international humanitarian order!