"… We should reject self-serving arguments (that) seek to classify terrorism according to its root causes and therefore justify (a) terrorist action somewhere while condemning it elsewhere. Those that advance these arguments should explain what the root causes of the brutal acts of September 11 were…We in India know from our own bitter experience that terrorists develop global networks driven by religious extremism… [Such terrorist operations] are supported by drug trafficking, money laundering and arms smuggling..."
-- Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, India, November 10, 2001
"… You understand, as elected representatives of the people, that public opinion seeks action from its elected representatives when such incidents occur... We have no desire to overload the agenda of the international coalition against terrorism. But at the same time, we need to ensure that we do not tamely accept terrorist acts against us from across the borders… Killing of innocent civilians and destruction of property can only be called terrorism, whatever the justification provided… Every such manifestation has to be dealt with equally firmly... Unless and until we develop this integrated and inclusive approach to this scourge, no democratic, pluralist society can remain unthreatened by terrorism. We will remain strongly with the American people in this endeavour… `We hope Pakistan can play a constructive role in this [political reconciliation and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.]. If indeed it has made the correct strategic choice to change, it would be a major advance towards peace in the region…'"[The response of India to the September 11 attacks and the subsequent Anthrax scare] was not motivated by tactical or foreign policy considerations. It was spontaneous. It emanated from our fellow feeling for you and from the pain of our own experience from terrorism… Terrorists will not succeed in destroying America's rich tradition of pluralism, tolerance and accommodation… "
-- Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, India, November 8, 2001
"… September 11 made them (the United States) see what we have been trying to make them see…[Because of the dynamics of the events of September 11] it will become difficult for any country to adopt terrorism as a state policy for achieving political ends against a neighbour…''
-- L K Advani, Home Minister, India, November 7, 2001
"… On one side Pakistan is a close ally of America
and on the other Islamabad openly sponsors terrorism in India. How
can both run concurrently, I fail to understand…"
"[The September 11 attacks are a] turning point in world history… For many years now, we in India have been the targets of a proxy war carried out in the form of cross-border terrorism. September 11, however, was much more than cross-border terrorism; it was cross-continental terrorism... The campaign of hate, intolerance and violence propagated by the al-Qaeda network has simply no parallel in modern world history. Therefore, the new manifestation of international terrorism is a challenge to human civilization itself… What is at work behind Al-Qaeda and similar terrorist organisations is a dangerous mindset that seeks to fundamentally redefine the premises and principles of the present world order. It challenges not only the sovereignty of individual nations, but also the universally cherished concepts like secularism, pluralism and individual freedom… Under international law, it is legitimate if anyone attacks you, you have the right to pursue… we are not aiming at terrorists training camps in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir at this point of time... We are looking forward to this global battle against terrorism and we want to make it a success … In this fight, Pakistan being on our side in the battle against terrorism is an advantage in the international effort… [But, the United States must ensure that Pakistan as a member of its coalition against terrorism does not provide haven to militants who target India] … It is the very same ISI [which had backed the Taliban] that has also been the planner, instigator and supporter of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and in other parts of India… "Countries must ensure that those who are part of the war on terrorism are themselves not guilty of providing a safe haven to terrorists, hijackers and organizers of terrorist camps…
-- L K Advani, Home Minister, India, October 19, 2001
Transcript of Joint Press Conference by
External Affairs Minister Shri Jaswant Singh
and the US Secretary of State Mr. Colin Powell
October 17, 2001 - New Delhi
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, Good Afternoon. It is my distinct pleasure that we have my friend Secretary of State to meet all of you. I had the occasion to meet him very recently in Washington on the 2nd of October and I am delighted to have been able to play host to him since yesterday. He leaves shortly for Shanghai.
As the Prime Minister informed the Secretary of State, we are not treating this visit by him as a visit of the Secretary of State of the United States of America, as we do of a full formal visit to India. I had a very cordial, very frank and, a very fruitful discussion with the Secretary of State yesterday where we spent just an hour and a half discussing issues together. We had a pleasant supper together and then we covered the entire range of issues bilateral to India-United States of America; regional as also global issues, and of course regional aspects covering the latest developments in Afghanistan, particularly, both September 11, and thereafter October 1st came up for a considerable extent of mutual discussion.
I do want to repeat what the Prime Minister had said in his very last address to the Joint Session of the US Congress that India and the United States of America being natural allies, I treat my friend Colin’s visit as a part of the same demonstration.
We continue to hold that September 11 was an assault on freedom, on civilisation, on democracy. India’s stand against terrorism not simply starting from September 11even before that, has been unequivocal. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the international community and the United States of America in our battle against this global menace. It is my pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, to now request my friend and guest the Secretary of State to share his thoughts with us.
MR. COLIN POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister, for your warm welcome and for your friendship as well. It means a great deal to me. I thank you and all other your colleagues, and especially the Prime Minister for the courtesies extended to me in this all too brief visit. I look forward to returning in some future time and spending much more time here in India.
As you have noted, we are natural allies - two great democracies who believe in a common set of values that have served both our nations well. President Bush had made it absolutely clear that transforming the relationship with India and to put it on a higher plane is one of his priorities. I found that this view is entirely shared by Prime Minister Vajpayee and his colleagues as well. The United States and India have a responsibility, as the world’s largest multi-ethnic democracies, to work in close partnership with each other. The prospects have never been brighter for cooperation across a whole range of issues. We have discussed all of these issues in the past dozen or so hours. President Bush asked me to come here to discuss the global coalition against terrorism on how the United States and India can continue their efforts over the long haul.
As an aside I might mention here now that we know the Prime Minister will be coming to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly meeting in early November, and President Bush has extended an invitation to the Prime Minister to come to Washington on the 9th of November for a working visit. Both the President and we look forward to receiving the Prime Minister in Washington on the 9th of November. I am also pleased that, of course, that invitation has been accepted. I can assure you will be warmly welcomed Mr. Minister.
President Bush also asked me to convey his personal thanks to the Prime Minister for the support we have already received from India and especially Foreign Minister Singh who has been in the forefront of developing and presenting those support offers to us over the past month. We have stood shoulder to shoulder in this fight against terrorism. Both the United States and India were quick to realise that the attacks of September 11th were attacks on the whole world. Citizens of some eighty countries were among the victims including many Indian citizens who remained among the missing. Our hearts go out to the families here in India of those who were lost. Our heartfelt thanks to the people of India for the outpouring of sympathy we have received for our own losses in the attacks.
I want to make it clear that our focus in Afghanistan now is eradicating Al Qaeda network and the terrorist use of Afghanistan as a safe haven, to stop the invasion of Afghanistan that has taken place as a result of the presence of Al Qaeda. We will achieve that goal. President Bush and the international coalition is determined. We will persist and we will prevail. Only after the terrorists are gone can there be a broad-based Government in Afghanistan that represents all elements of Afghan society, brings an end to fighting, lives in harmony with its neighbours in the neighbourhood that coexist, begins the task of reconstruction, and welcomes the refugees back home.
My colleagues here pointed out correctly that the problem of terrorism is not only limited to Afghanistan. I assure them that our efforts are directed against all terrorism. The United States and India are united against terrorism and that includes the terrorism that has been directed against India as well. Even before the September 11th attacks, the United States and India were cooperating extensively against terrorism. We established a Counter-Terrorism Joint Working Group last January, for example. Now our cooperation is even more intense. Today, Home Minister Advani and I signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that will enhance our fight against crime.
Clearly, a major focus of my trip has been on ways the United States and India can work together in advancing the international coalition against terrorism. My talks with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister and other officials covered many other important issues as well. We agreed on the far-reaching importance of the new Indo-US relationship which is anchored by the commitment of our leaders and by the friendship of our peoples. I am confident that our relations, already improving substantially, are becoming and will become even stronger.
President Bush’s waiver of Glenn Amendment sanctions allows the United States and India to move forward with broader cooperation between the two sides. During the course of my visit, I had occasion to discuss President Bush’s new strategic framework and I briefed the Prime Minister on our continuing exchanges with Russia on this very very vital subject. We discussed how to promote stability on the subcontinent in my talks both here and in Pakistan. I request the leaders of both the nations to continue their dialogue and take steps to reduce tension between them. I leave today for the APEC Ministerial, confident that the United States and India stand together against the scourge of international terrorism, strengthened by our shared democratic values, and ready as never before to work together for freedom, prosperity, and security in the region and in the world. Finally, once again my good friend, I thank you for the warm hospitality you have extended to me. Thank you Mr. Minister.
MS. NIRUPAMA RAO: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Secretary of State and the External Affairs Minister will now take questions. We will have three questions from each side. We will begin with the first question from the Indian side and follow that sequence with the American side asking the second question.
Please indicate to whom you are addressing the question and identify yourself while asking the question.
QUESTION (MR. ASHOK SHARMA, AP): Sir, we wonder how can Pakistan be a part of the international effort to combat terrorism. Pakistan has promoted terrorism in Afghanistan and in Kashmir. It still maintains diplomatic ties with the Taliban. Should not India be attacking Pakistan going by the logic that the United States is attacking Afghanistan?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I presume that question is addressed to me.
MR. COLIN POWELL: You can take it. I would not want to be inhospitable. If you wish, its all yours.
I think Pakistan has made it clear in recent weeks that they recognise the nature of the Taliban regime, and are working with us to fight against Al Qaeda. They are working with us to see what kind of a Government can be put together in the post-Taliban regime. We deplore terrorism wherever it exists, whether it is the kind of terrorism we saw on the 11th of September, or the kind of terrorism that we saw on the 1st of October in Srinagar. We believe that all nations who are trying to move forward in a 21st century that I think will be shaped more and more by democracy and the values of individual liberty and freedom, can join in this coalition. We welcome all those who are committed to those principles and committed against terrorism.
QUESTION (MR. GEORGE GEDDA, AP): Mr. Secretary, you said yesterday in Pakistan that Kashmir is a central issue between India and Pakistan. You also said the aspirations of the Kashmiri people must be respected. This caused some unease here in India. Do you have any comment please?
MR. COLIN POWELL: Yes. I didn’t say ‘a central’. If you look at it carefully, I said ‘central’ in the sense that I believe it is an important issue, and to suggest that it isn’t, wouldn’t have been accurate. But it is more important to look at the rest of my statement where I said that we should move forward on the basis of dialogue, on the basis of efforts to reduce tension, to avoid violence, and with respect to human rights. I think that is a sound statement.
The issue of Kashmir is one that has to be resolved between India and Pakistan. The United States is a friend of both of those nations. To the extent that both nations can find our efforts to be helpful in some way or the other, we will be willing to be helpful. I think it is more important to focus on the rest of my statement than on that particular word, which has somehow had an article slipped in front of it while I wasn’t looking.
QUESTION (MR. ANIL NARENDRA, VIR ARJUN): Osama-bin-Laden in an interview to Al Jazeera TV claimed that the Islamic world had helped Pakistan build the nuclear bomb and as such it is an Islamic bomb, and can be used by them as and when they choose. Your comments please.
MR. COLIN POWELL: Nonsense. Osama-bin-Laden is not a representative of Islam. He is a terrorist; he is a murderer. He has murdered innocent Indians, innocent Americans, innocent Pakistanis, innocent people from all over the world. He should not in any way be elevated to the status of a leader who believes in any faith. He believes only in power. He has done nothing to help the people who are suffering in the world. All he has done is, he has brought more evil into the world, and death and destruction to individual citizens. There can be no linkage between what he might be doing and what any other nation may be doing. I just reject that as nonsense.
QUESTION (MR. PATRICK TYLER, NEW YORK TIMES): Mr. Secretary, a couple of summers ago the Central Intelligence Agency was reported to suggest that the America’s plans to go forward with the National Missile Defence would incite China to expand its nuclear arsenal, and that in turn will incite India and Pakistan to an arms race in South Asia. Do you personally agree with that assessment? You said you discussed the strategic issues today. How did it come up today?
MR. COLIN POWELL: No, I don’t agree with that assessment. I think the kind of missile defence that we are planning on is a very limited missile defence. I think once people come to understand the kind of reductions we are going to make in our strategic offensive weapons - significant reductions, to much much lower numbers – and when people have a chance to get a look in, come to understand the nature of our limited missile defence, I don’t think either Russia or China will find it destabilising with respect to their deterrent forces. In my conversations both here and in Islamabad, I heard from both sides about this issue. We did have the conversation. I took the opportunity of my meeting with the Prime Minister to describe the President’s strategic framework concept and to thank the Indians for their understanding of the importance of missile defence. I get the sense that both nations understand the nature of these weapons and the importance of constraining their developments so that they serve as deterrents, and do not move from a strategy of deterrence to any other kind of strategy. So there is no reason for arms race to develop based on what the United States is planning with missile defence. In fact, I think missile defence in the long run will be seen as stabilising, not destabilising, because it takes something of the currency away from the value of strategic offensive weapons.
QUESTION (MS. SONIA TRIKHA, INDIAN EXPRESS): My question is addressed to both of you. Mr. Secretary, you said in Islamabad yesterday that you believed that the Kashmir issue is central to the relationship between India and Pakistan. This is not a view shared by India which has advocated a composite dialogue covering various political and economic aspects with Pakistan, and not a unifocal approach, as you have said, that centres on Kashmir alone. Do you think that the world sees the wisdom of India’s stand in this?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I think the Secretary of State has more than adequately really read out what he said in Islamabad. Obviously that is the position that the United States of America has and has had. As two democracies we could disagree on an event, but we don’t need necessarily to be disagreeable about the disagreement. Together, the question of State of Jammu and Kashmir is an example of the secular tradition of the Indian nation. In that sense we really cannot move towards reinventing the two-nation theory all over again. We have conveyed these views to the Secretary of State and we will continue to do so.
MR. COLIN POWELL: I agree totally.
QUESTION (MARATHA RADDATZ, ABC): Secretary Powell, there was a strain of Anthrax found on the letter to Senator Dashcle that is said to be highly refined and pure, suggesting state sponsorship. Could you comment on that?
Mr. Foreign Minister, could you tell me what your concerns are about the involving and growing relationship between the United States and Pakistan; and have you assured the United States that you will do your part to calm down tensions in Kashmir?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I can answer that very easily. I am glad you asked that. The relationship that India has and will develop with the United States of America is not a hyphenated relationship. We don’t see it through any prism of relation between any other country. We have a relationship with our western neighbour. We are committed. This Government has demonstrated commitment on improving our relations with Pakistan, as perhaps no other Government in the last fifty years has, despite difficulties and uncertainties. The Prime Minister has often said, and I repeated that to the Secretary of State, that you can change friends but you can’t change neighbours. We can certainly not alter geography. Pakistan with India has to learn to live together as good neighbours. It will come, be assured. We cannot push the pace of it. Nobody can push the pace of it. The people of the two countries realise the essential sanity of what the Prime Minister of India has repeatedly said that the two people have to learn, have to forget the the mistakes of the past fifty years, and we have to learn to live together as we address what are our real enemies of today – poverty, want - as the two countries endeavour to move together in the 21st century and meet the challenges of the 21st century.
MR. COLIN POWELL: I really can’t add anything about the Anthrax story and the Dashcle envelope and what they analysed. I just have not any more information than you would really have from Washington. So, I had better stay away from that.
QUESTION (MR. ANURAG TOMAR, ZEE NEWS): Mr. Secretary, Powell, what is your perception about India-US relations after having a whole lot of meetings on important issues with senior Indian leaders? Where does it stand today? Where does it go?
MR. COLIN POWELL: I think our relations are strong. They have improved so much in recent years. I was saying to my colleagues earlier that as the Chief of Joint Chiefs of Staff and the most of years I spent in senior positions in the US military back in the 70s and through the 80s, we really didn’t have much to do with India regrettably. That has now all changed. So, these two great democracies can now work together. Here is a mutual interest. We are trying to remove whatever irritations exist in our relationship. This improvement was taking place before the 11th of September, and since the 11th of September, with the strong support that we received from the Indian Government. We have the opportunity to accelerate the pace of change. We look forward to seize on that opportunity. I think it will be in the interest not only of our two countries but in the interest of South Asia as well.
QUESTION (ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS): Mr. Secretary, can you share any information about what just happened in Jerusalem with the shooting of a Cabinet Minister; and how this will affect your efforts to try to persuade both sides to resume a more meaningful dialogue and persuade the Israelis in particular not to take counter action?
MR. COLIN POWELL: I just heard about that before the Press Conference. I don’t know the details as to who has taken credit for the shooting and what the nature of the incident was. So, I really don’t have a comment at this time.
QUESTION (ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS): Are you going to try to reach out to Mr. Sharon and try to persuade him that no matter what has happened in this instance that he should not retreat from …
MR. COLIN POWELL: I think I had better understand the incidents before I suggest that to Mr. Sharon. But, as you know, I speak to him on a regular basis, if not daily, every other day or so. I look forward to doing that the next day or so.
QUESTION (ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS): Mr. Foreign Minister, in particular, on the subject of the US Congress now lifting some remaining sanctions and the expressed proposal by the Administration to follow it up by taking advantage of the waving, granting more economic aid and possibly military aid in the future to Pakistan, do you think that this economic aid to Pakistan is potentially destabilising to the relationship that India has with the United States? Is this too much of a reward for Pakistan …
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I understand your question. I have just responded to a similar question. India’s relationship with the United States of America is not subject, and is not under the veto of any other relationship. These are two sovereign countries. It is very good luck to our western neighbours in Pakistan. It is my hope that they will utilise the economic aid for the right purpose. But that again is something that Pakistan has to decide. I can’t really very well decide for Pakistan, or even ordained to advise Pakistan how they should do it. We have a certain experience about the military aid to Pakistan in the past. Now that we see some evidence of Pakistan moving away from fixed positions of the past and joining the rest of the international community, we can only hope that the same approach will govern the utilisation of any aid or assistance that they receive from the United States of America or from any other country.
MS. NIRUPAMA RAO: Thank you very much. I am afraid we will have to conclude here.
"… If this (al-Qaeda's appeal to the US not to help Hindus against Muslims in Kashmir) is true, then it is a serious challenge. We will have to combat it together… In fact, Pakistan [is not benefiting in the present situation, but] is in trouble. India's diplomacy is going in the right direction"...
-- Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, India, October 16, 2001
"…The firing on Monday [October 15] was not initiated by India… It was one of those actions the army takes on a daily basis all along the LoC and the International Border… India will be ruthless in dealing with infiltrations and the kind of methods used by (infiltrators), whether it is laying mines or suicide encounters like the one outside the [Jammu and Kashmir Legislative] Assembly building… All of these are actions of the Pakistani terrorists. One has to be very ruthless in dealing them…"
-- George Fernandes, Defence Minister, India, October 16, 2001
"… In our battle against terrorism, we need to take people from all religions and communities with us. Religion does not permit the killing of innocents. Let us not forget that many of those killed in the Kashmir Valley were blameless Muslims. But those who create trouble don’t make a distinction between terrorism and religion… [The world has only recently recognised the dangers of terrorism] … But what we have done is not enough — we need to pull it out by its roots. We are determined to secure the lives of all our citizens. There will be no compromise in our battle against terrorism…’’
-- Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, India, October 14, 2001
Transcript of the Press Conference Addressed by
India’s External Affairs and Defence Minister
October 11, 2001
I am glad to meet you again and to share news and views.
The world after September 11 is a very different world.
I had occasion to discuss this earlier on September 21. Since then, there have been significant developments.
The international coalition has initiated military action.
Let me, therefore, share the outlines of the military situation in Afghanistan as on October 11, 2001.
There is now increased focus on the future structure in Afghanistan, so as to bring lasting peace and stability to this war-torn land, also to ensure that Afghanistan as both a training ground and a sanctuary for terrorists, also as the center of narcotics trade, once again becomes a country, a society that does not radiate extremism and fundamentalism.
India has always supported an independent, broad-based, multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan. We are working with international community towards this end.
India has traditionally been a major partner in Afghanistan’s development effort. We have continued our assistance, though diminished by present circumstances. I am to announce that the Government has taken a decision to enhance significantly our humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. We would be supplying one million tonnes of wheat and also supplying tents and blankets and quilts. We also seek to expand medical services and in particular rehabilitation efforts such as through the ‘Jaipur Foot’.
In view of the traditional and deep-rooted historical and cultural linkages between India and Afghanistan, India will also participate actively in the rehabilitation and reconstruction effort required once peace and stability have been restored to that country. This will be through infrastructure development, education, medical and other projects, all under the aegis of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation, which uptill 1979, was our largest single such programme.
India has been in active touch with other countries in this collective effort to ensure that the current campaign against international terrorism is taken to its logical conclusion, and with the least possible collateral consequences on the civil society of Afghanistan.
I had myself recently visited the US, UK, France and Germany. I had conversations on telephone with leaders from a large number of countries including Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Canada, the Secretary General of the Arab League; consultations are slated with France, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. You would also be interested in knowing that the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Ilya Klebanov is visiting New Delhi from the 14th to 16th October. US Secretary of State Mr. Colin Powell will also in New Delhi in the near future. In addition, we are looking forward to consultations with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh on the 15th October, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Trubnikov on 18-19 October during the meeting of the Indo-Russian Working Group on Afghanistan.
Prime Minister has also been in touch with several world leaders including from US, UK, Russia and Pakistan.
Even as we watch the unfolding international campaign against terrorism, there are clear signs of the international community’s determination to deal conclusively with the scourge. The UN Security Council, for instance, unanimously adopted Resolution 1373, on 28 September, which mandates stoppage of funding for terrorists, denying them safe haven and any form of support. OIC Foreign Ministers met in an emergency session in Doha on October 10 and adopted a communique condemning acts of terrorism.
As you all know, India has for nearly two decades faced this problem of terrorism, sponsored from abroad, and has drawn attention to the need for strengthened international cooperation to deal with the scourge which recognises no national boundaries. It was with this in mind that we are continuing discussions at the UN on a Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism.
I am confident that with this renewed international focus and determination, we would move towards a world where innocent civilians are not targeted, terrorism is rejected as an instrument of state policy, and there is no acceptance of any political, religious or any other attempted justification for such criminal acts.
SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN – 11 OCTOBER 2001
1. Coalition Strikes
2. Northern Alliances
(Question and Answer Session)
QUESTION (MR. VIJAY NAIK, SAKAL PAPERS): There are reports that Mr. Powell, when he comes here, would like both India and Pakistan to lower the tempers and continue the dialogue. Is there a possibility of resumption of dialogue with Pakistan?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I think it was in this very hall perhaps on 21st of September I had said that India will do nothing to add to the current disturbed and trying situation - complex situation, complex both for the people and the Government of Pakistan - in that country. Most regrettably, barely ten days later followed what we have witnessed at the State Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir in Srinagar. India never has done anything to raise tempers. The Prime Minister has said that this is not India’s way; we will not engage. But, it has to be reciprocated. There must be a recognition. The Prime Minister has said that this is not a one-way street.
QUESTION (MR. JAIRAM, INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE): Could you tell us the broad contours of the Government’s plans for Afghanistan after the Taliban? You said that a broad-based Government should replace Taliban.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I think I can share some initial thoughts, and what the thinking of the world community is in this regard. But, you will appreciate that I cannot give any definitive answer. I cleared India’s position and approach in this matter. India stands for a multi-ethnic Government that represents all sections of Afghan society. We do believe that this land that has been ravaged by wars for over twenty years now must return to peace and normalcy. There are a number of attempts being made. India has expressed its view so as to ensure that Afghanistan does not all over again become a centre that radiates extremism or fundamentalism, or remains a centre for narcotics trade. We have also said that India is of the view that rather than being personality-based, the future that is sought is much better if it is process-based.
QUESTION (DR. MANAS BANERJEE, DAINIK AGRADOOT): Time and again India is asking US to ban Jaish-e-Muhammad. Cannot India do it alone independently? What is the problem for India in banning this organisation?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I must explain this. It is not simply a question of Jaish-e-Muhammad, there are a number of other organisations. Indian legal provisions do not actually enable us to ban organisations that have no physical assets or any other facilities within the country. In case of such organisations that are within the country which merit banning, the Government has taken prompt action.
QUESTION (MS. BULA, THE STATESMAN): There were reports from Islamabad quoting officials that if the Prime Minister cannot visit Pakistan soon, you should visit as early as possible. Have you received any such invitation officially? If so, when do you intend to go?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Firstly, I have not received, what you term as, any official invitation in this regard. I am privy to the conversation that was held between His Excellency Gen. Pervez Musharraf sahab, the President of Pakistan and my Prime Minister, in which this idea did certainly feature. I have no plans of visiting Pakistan. I have not received any invitation in this regard. Even if I had received an invitation, it will be very difficult for me – given the current obligations that I have and no doubt the current preoccupations Pakistan has – to undertake any such visit.
QUESTION (MR. NARAYANAN, ALL INDIA RADIO): Do you see hot pursuit into Pak-Occupied Kashmir as a possible option in the coming months, if the kind of outrages like the Assembly attack continue?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I do not.
QUESTION (MR. ARNAB GOSWAMI, STAR NEWS): In the light of certain decisions taken by Gen. Musharraf recently, is New Delhi convinced that the General is serious about, and totally committed to rid his Government of elements of Taliban?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I prefer not to comment on the seriousness or otherwise of the intentions of His Excellency the President of Pakistan. That is really something for Pakistan to decide. I would take at face value whatever he has asserted. But, I will have to wait and watch and see the ground result over time of what is taken or announced as a decision.
QUESTION (MS. SHOBHANA JAIN, UNI VARTA): Would you comment on India’s reaction on OIC’s resolution on terrorism?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I have referred to the OIC resolution on terrorism. I am glad that OIC has condemned terrorism. It is an aspect that the Government of India welcomes. There is, therefore, nothing as far as I am concerned that is objectionable in the OIC resolution communique that has recently been adopted at Doha. If you are referring to any particular aspect of the communique, then I would attempt to answer.
QUESTION (MS. SHOBHANA JAIN, UNI VARTA): The resolution does not mention Kashmir.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: "Whether I should express disappointment at the fact that they have not mentioned Jammu and Kashmir", if that is what you wanted to say, well, I am sure I have to disappoint you.
QUESTION (MR. V. P. SHARMA): You have mentioned that India is ready to give assistance to Afghan people on humanitarian grounds. Is Government of India making some arrangements for this? For example, if people come from Afghanistan as refugees to India, will they be allowed? If so, where will they be accommodated, and how much money has been allocated for this?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Yes, we will. We received reports that some Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan fled the current situation and left their country and were stranded at Wagha without passports or any other travel documents. We have made special arrangements for our Mission to send somebody to Wagha and to get them visas and travel papers onsite. Of course, the Government of India provides them every possible assistance once they are here.
QUESTION (MS. PADMA RAO): This is a Germany-related question. The German Foreign Secretary is arriving tomorrow, and so is the German Chancellor later this month. There has been much talk of a strategic dialogue beginning in place of what was being termed as a purely business visit. Could you throw a little light upon this strategic dialogue and as to whether what you originally intended to talk to the German Government about has changed over the last couple of months?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: As you know, I have recently been to Berlin when I had occasion to call on His Excellency the Chancellor. Herr Schroeder was due to visit Delhi, I believe, on 29th of October. I am due to meet the equivalent of the Foreign Secretary as well because that is a part of the routine conversation between our two Ministries. This aspect of upgrading the current relationship between India and Germany into a strategic dialogue did come up during my recent visit to Germany. We will be moving in that direction. Until we have achieved it, it will be premature for me to give any outlines or even contents of such a dialogue. But, the strategic dialogue, as the name itself suggests, is strategic in content and purpose.
QUESTION (SATINDRA BINDRA, CNN): You have just ruled out hot pursuit. The UNI has carried some comments made by Indian Prime Minister. He says he does not rule out the military option at this time. Mr. Minister, don’t you think these two statements appear contrary to each other? Your comments please.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I do not know which comment of the Prime Minister you are referring to or when he said this to UNI.
QUESTION (SATINDRA BINDRA, CNN): Can I read it out? He said, "We are discussing the matter and a military operation on this might be launched after considering all the options." This report is datelined Varanasi. The lead of the report goes, "Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today did not rule out military action to flush out terrorists from Jammu and Kashmir".
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: A military option to flush out terrorists from within the State of Jammu and Kashmir is, of course, not ruled out. The question does not relate to hot pursuit.
QUESTION (MR. AJAY KUMAR, AAJ TAK): Gen. Musharraf said to Prime Minister Vajpayee that talks between the two countries should continue. Before that he said that what is happening in Kashmir is a freedom struggle. In view of this, do you think there is a common ground between India and Pakistan at all?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: There are two parts to your question. One is that the talks should start again. Hon. Prime Minister has reminded the General Sahab that the series of talks were always started by India whether it was in Lahore on the Bus or at Agra. It is not necessary to remind the General Sahab of the difficulties that came up in that process, of Kargill happening after Lahore and Agra happening after Kandahar, and the killings, etc. The Prime minister said that our wish was that we meet in Agra so that the train of talks kept moving. But, our neighbours’ attitude is such that the train has stopped. To move it again it is necessary that the weapon of terrorism which they are wielding is given up. India has never feared talks. But, as long as the atmosphere is not created for talks, how can we talk?
QUESTION (MR. SATISH JACOB, BBC): I am sure you know that Indian journalists have been denied visas to go to Pakistan. I consider that as a deprivation of our rights as journalists. Don’t you think that you should, in your capacity as the Minister of External Affairs of India, take up with the Government of Pakistan that journalists from India should be allowed access to cover what is going on in Afghanistan?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Certainly. I cannot agree more with you in that regard. I have already advised our Mission to initiate a request in that regard. As you know, India has never stepped in the way of journalists, or commentators, or whosoever, from Pakistan to come to India. We do believe that presently when such momentous developments are taking place in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Indian journalists be denied access to the development is – well, I do not wish to comment on the philosophy of freedom of press, etc., that really is something for Pakistan to address – certainly a deprivation. We have already taken it up. Now that you asked me to do so - it is not a question, it is really a demand on me - I will certainly pursue it.
QUESTION (MR. RANJIT KUMAR, NAVBHARAT TIMES): You said in your statement that Pakistan has returned two helicopters to Taliban. Does this mean that Pakistan has not given military assistance to Taliban and that Pakistan has not done anything to go against the US lead coalition against Taliban?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: How do I refer to it? In the present circumstances, how proper would it be for me to comment on this? It may be taken as a complaint against our friends. But, they are military helicopters. They left Afghanistan because, as I said, Taliban’s air assets - aerodromes, radars, etc., - were being attacked. They thought that they would leave Afghanistan and go to the friendly neighbour Pakistan and so, they have gone there and got arrested. They should have stayed there, but they are returned now. If they were military helicopters before, I do not think they would be used for peaceful purposes now.
QUESTION (MR. ANURAG TOMAR, ZEE NEWS): During the forthcoming visit of Mr. Powell to Pakistan and India, Kashmir is likely to figure in the talks. From Shimla to Agra, India has been insisting that Kashmir is a bilateral issue. What is your reaction to this?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: My reaction is quite clear. Pakistan has every right to talk to whosoever it wants to talk to. How can I tell them to talk with somebody on some issue or not to talk with somebody on some issue? As far as India is concerned, our view has always been clear that Jammu and Kashmir is not an international issue; Jammu and Kashmir is a bilateral issue. And, this has been an issue because there has been repeated interference of our neighbours in it. So, the dialogue that is to take place will be a bilateral dialogue. If someone else talks with us about the international situation as to what is there in Jammu and Kashmir, as to what is happening there, we have no fear of talking on any issue. We will once again get an opportunity to repeat as to what are the aspects of that issue and what are the realities of that issue. There is no objection to this.
QUESTION (MR. RAJDEEP SARDESAI, STAR NEWS): I have one question and one petition to you.
Given what you said is the situation on the ground in terms of Talibans’ air defences being destroyed and Commanders having been killed, could you wear your Defence Minister’s hat and tell us how soon you believe this conflict in terms of air strikes would end? Do you believe that Taliban would, within a fortnight, find it very difficult to survive?
My petition is a reiteration of the point Mr. Jacob made just now. Could you possibly at your level take up the matter of journalists getting access to Pakistan? Freedom of information between the two countries is a part of the SAARC Charter. It has to be done at your level or at the level of the Prime Minister. It cannot be done at our level. We request you to take that point further.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I will answer both your question and petition. It is very unusual and, if I might say so, it is a somewhat flattering experience for me in a full-fledged press conference rather than to be questioned or grilled to be petitioned.
I agree with you. Besides the fact that it is a part of the SAARC charter, developments in the region warrant that Indian journalists not be prevented from going there and cover the events. I mentioned to you that we have advised our Mission to take it up. Currently, Pakistan goes through a certain situation, as you know. Access to some television channels has also now been denied. I know for a fact that my Mission can no longer access, the channels from India that it was earlier accessing. This is an action not taken directly against the Mission but against the cable network operators of Pakistan. It is well within Pakistan’s sovereign right to take whatever action it wishes to against its own cable network operators. But it has a consequence on my Mission. I am taking steps to correct that situation as best as I can. So far as urging yet again the Government of Pakistan to reconsider this total ban on journalists from India to visit Pakistan and Afghanistan, I assure you I will do so latest by tomorrow and I will do my best in this regard.
QUESTION (MR. RAJDEEP SARDESAI, STAR NEWS): One word from you to Mr. Sattar is enough.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: It is flattering to hear that one word would suffice. But, I will try.
Secondly, you want from me, as the Defence Minister of the country, my assessment of the evolution of the military situation in Afghanistan. My best guide in this regard is the assessment of both my counterpart and friend Secretary of State for Defence Rumsfeld as also the pronouncements made by President Bush himself. President bush has said that this is going to be long drawn out. So has Secretary of State for Defence Rumsfeld. Long drawn out has two dimensions. In a global sense, of course, it is long drawn out. It will be simplistic to think that it is a short-term affair. Long drawn out in the context of action against Taliban and its forces in Afghanistan has got to be seen in time dimension as it is global. It is our assessment that there could possibly be a lull in the air action tomorrow, being Jumma, but it would resume the day after. In fact, it would be now both night and day attacks. If you examine the military situation, uptill now the Taliban military assets that have been neutralised are largely the air power components – airfields, radars, some of their flying ability, communications and command. They still do have other military assets. The air strikes uptill now have been not so much on the forward positions of the Taliban forces, but much more on the reserve and rear positions. I can say with a fair degree of certainty that we will see more air action by day and night, including action against the remaining military assets of Taliban forces also, of further degradation of the communication links between the Taliban and its forces including the supply routes. Thereafter will come a little phase of pounding the forward positions of the Taliban forces, which I believe will be followed by renewed military action by the Northern Alliance. I do not see it in the short-term. I cannot speculate or give you a timeframe within which all this activity will take place.
QUESTION (MR. RAJIV SHARMA, THE TRIBUNE): You talked of military degradation of Taliban. What about the terrorist camps? American strikes so far have not covered places like Khost which are on the border with Pakistan. Do you think America’s Operation Enduring Freedom will really mean enduring freedom in Kashmir for India when these terrorist camps are not eliminated?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: We are a free country. What do you mean by ‘freedom for India’?
QUESTION (MR. RAJIV SHARMA, THE TRIBUNE): Do you think that Operation Enduring Freedom would be logical if terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and places like Khost and others which are on the border with Pakistan are not destroyed?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I think these terrorist training camps will be neutralised. Please recognise one very important aspect. Neutralisation of Afghanistan as a centre of training, of promoting, thereafter exporting terrorists and terrorist-related ideas, neutralisation of Afghanistan as a terrorist base, is of direct benefit to India’s national interests because most of the training camps that were earlier located nearer Jammu and Kashmir were moved into Afghanistan. Their neutralisation converting Afghanistan from what it is today to a country that rejoins the international community is a direct benefit to Indian national interest.
QUESTION (MR. VAKIL KASHUR GAZETTE) : Why is India shying away from hot pursuit which is in the interest of Kashmir? Thousands of Talibans are fighting against our forces there.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: All factors are taken into account when determining the policy. All the factors that go into determining the policy, it will be difficult for me to detail in a press conference.
QUESTION (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS): I would like to know whether any assurance was given by US President Bush to our Prime Minister Vajpayee that there would be a ban on militant organisation Jaish-e-Muhammad. If so, can we expect such a ban during the visit of Mr. Colin Powell?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: You would appreciate that what transpires in a conversation between two Heads of Government is confidential. I am not free to divulge what was discussed or what was left out from discussion. As to what will be said, or discussed, or announced by Secretary of State Colin Powell when he comes here, why don’t you wait until he is here?
QUESTION (MR. ROHIT CNN): When an attack happened on the United States, US President went out and said that he would smoke terrorists out from wherever they are hiding. When it comes to India’s reaction, for a country which has been facing more than ten years of terrorism, India seems to have a subdued reaction over the years.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Well, India reacts as India reacts. So far as the first of October attacks against the State Assembly of Kashmir is concerned, I think globally there was a reaction that it is an outrageous act. I do not think there was anything muted or subdued in India’s reaction. I have said that for 20 years India has been fighting its battle against terrorism alone. We intend to continue and fight this battle until we have resolved this issue. It is very good that such large parts of the international community now recognise the menace of international terrorism. As I have said earlier, it is not as if India has joined the battle of the United States of America. Post-September 11, it is the United States of America that has joined India’s battle. It is a battle against terrorism. That is a resolve on the part of the United States of America to fight it until it is rooted out. I do not think one need make statements on every policy intent that we want to pursue.
QUESTION (MR. MUKESH KUMAR SINGH, AAJ KI BAAT): Right from the beginning India has welcomed military action by America. Is there a chance of Indian forces taking active part in the ongoing military operations?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: No. India is extending the cooperation it has to extend. Our saying that in this fight against terrorism we stand by the international community in itself is a big step in cooperation. Neither there is a need for Indian forces to go there, nor there is any such plan.
QUESTION: You said that there will be a lull tomorrow.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I did not say there ‘will’ be.
QUESTION: Okay. At the same time you also do not foresee the battle ending in the near future.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Yes, I did say that it is not likely to end in the near future.
QUESTION: The months of Ramzan are not very far away, they will approach in a couple of weeks. How do you see this battle during Ramzan?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I am sure these facts have been taken into account by the planners. I cannot speculate as to how it will be carried. I believe that it is not a short-term battle. I do believe that it is likely to continue for some time.
QUESTION (AAPKA TV): As the strikes continue in Afghanistan, it is expected that this war is going to prolong. Is it going to affect Indian foreign policy, or our diplomatic relations, with other countries in the long run?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I have just cited to you as to how many countries have been in consultation with India; how many consultations I have engaged in; the number of visits that are taking place. In the sense that Tuesday, September 11, is a defining moment in world’s experience and history, it affects everybody and not just India. India addresses the issues of international relations as they evolve and develop.
QUESTION (MS. VINEETA DEEPAK, ASSOCIATED PRESS TELEVISION): Is India concerned at the number of civilian casualties? This is a concern expressed by a whole lot of other countries as well.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Yes, we are. We are certainly concerned. That is why I have expressed that there should be the least possible collateral damage to the civil society. There is another concern that we had voiced earlier and I must voice it again on India’s behalf. This is a fight against terrorism. This in no way or in no sense can be interpreted as any kind of conflict or fight against Islam. Islam itself is against terrorism. Terrorism, to our mind, is anti-Islamic. Practice in the name of Islam distorts the very face of it. Islam is the voice of God. I say it with conviction of Allah, the all-compassionate and the all-merciful. This fight against terrorism is a fight of the whole civilised world against an evil, against an abomination, which is killing. How can terrorism be pursued in the name of Islam or in the sight of Allah? So, there is no equation whatsoever in this regard.
QUESTION (MS. RENU, THE AFTERNOON): My first question relates to the OIC Conference of yesterday. The Minister made it very clear to the United States that they would not tolerate any further attacks on Arab Governments after the bombing of Afghanistan. Can you give your reaction to this?
Secondly, what is your answer to the repeated pleas of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to enter Pak-Occupied Kashmir and destroy the terrorist bases and training camps there?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: So far as the second part is concerned, that has been covered adequately enough. Repeatedly the Prime Minister did say and said it quite clearly that India will not continue to tolerate such incidents.
Insofar as the OIC is concerned, I have the text here with me. The relevant paragraph of the Communique says, "The Conference stressed its rejection of any linkage between terrorism and Islamic and Arab people’s rights. It does not include, as somebody has said, Jammu and Kashmir. It says ‘Arab people’s rights’. Since I do not know from where you have got this about attacking Arab countries, who can advocate attacks against Arab countries?
QUESTION: America had written to the United Nations Security Council saying that they reserve the right to attack any other country to fight against terrorism. How do you view this aspect?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I am aware of the letter that the United States has addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. What United States has invoked is the right of self-protection. Inherent in the right of self-protection is the obligation of the State to take such steps, as it finds necessary to protect itself. But, we are clear in our minds that at the present moment neither the situation nor the events of September 11 warrant any action against any other state or country. So far as the aims and purposes of the United Nations Security Council Committee that has been appointed pursuant to the Resolution SCR 1373, the aims and purposes of the Committee are to monitor the implementation of this Resolution, to give guidance to member-states to analyse the response that is given, identify possible problem areas, and to examine the scope of assistance that could be provided to member-states. All these provisions are both UNSC-related as also related under Chapter 51 of the United Nations Charter itself.
QUESTION (MS. INDRANI BAGCHI ECONOMIC TIMES): Since you are on the subject of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, could you elaborate a little on how the Resolution would help the international coalition against terrorism?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I just pointed out, for example, that there is a Committee that has been appointed under this Resolution. This Committee is under the Chairmanship of the Permanent Representative of Great Britain. I have pointed out that the Committee has defined its aims and purposes as monitoring the implementation of 1373 which mandates the closing of bank accounts, seizure of bank balances, prohibiting transfer of weapons, etc., along with giving guidance to member-states. I have just listed them out. I do not want to take time just pointing them out again. I think this is very comprehensive. It just addresses the totality of terrorism globally. It does not focus on any one particular incident of terrorism.
QUESTION: What is the mission of Mr. Colin Powell? He is coming here sometime next week. What do you think he is going to talk to you, or Pakistan or China? He is going to come on a long visit.
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Let me deal with China first. He is on his way to the APEC meeting at Shanghai. He is not making a bilateral visit to People’s Republic of China. So far as the purpose of the Secretary of State’s visit, as you know I very recently met with him on the 2nd of October. When he is here very shortly, we will take further the discussion that we had in Washington. We will also discuss India-US cooperation in combating the global terrorist networks wherever they exist. This counter-terrorism cooperation between India and the United States of America predates the unfortunate and tragic events of September 11, which both sides recognise to be a key component of the broad, expanding bilateral agenda. There is a renewed sense of urgency and purpose behind this endeavour now. We will also, I am sure, discuss the current operation and pursuit of the goals of the first phase of the campaign by United States and the coalitions, which is to bring to justice perpetrators of the attack on the United States, the network that supports them, and also the people that it harbours. These and other aspects will be discussed.
QUESTION (JAIN TV): This fight against Taliban is supposed to be only the first phase of the war against terrorism. When do you think the second phase will start? Secondly, Mr. Sattar has said that Pakistan wants a moderate Taliban leadership to takeover in Afghanistan. What is India’s stand on that?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I would much rather not comment on what my distinguished Foreign Minister of Pakistan has said. Moderate Taliban to my mind is an oxymoron. So far as the first part, I must correct your impression that this is a fight against Taliban. I think it has repeatedly been made clear that the target is the Al Qaeda network of which one of the principal promoters is, of course, Osama bin Laden, and one of the consequences is Taliban. The Al Qaeda network, it will be interesting to know for you, has a number of terrorist organisations that are operating in Jammu and Kashmir and in India. So, when Al Qaeda is targeted, these terrorist organisations are all targeted. Amongst them is Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and also there is one organisation that operates in Bangladesh called Harkat-ul-Jehad of Islam. These are organisations that are part of the Al Qaeda network that have already been announced. So, when it is pointed out as to of what benefit the fight against Al Qaeda is to India, please go through the organisations that have been spawned by the Al Qaeda and that are operating in India. There is a direct benefit because these were also the organisations which we were targeting and combating alone which now the international coalition against terrorism will also be targeting.
QUESTION: Do you feel any threat from Bangladesh?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: No, I don’t.
QUESTION: Which kind of military or logistic help you can provide to the Americans in the next phase of the war that, as you said, is going to be long?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: Long in the sense that fight against global terrorism cannot be conceived in a short timeframe. So far as logistics and other support is concerned, United States of America has not asked us for anything other than what was routinely provided. It was really not even connected with the present operation. Flight of aircraft from different countries, military and other aircraft, transiting through India is a routine operation. This will be in accordance with the guidelines that have already been decided by the Cabinet Committee on Security. These do not include grant of any permanent bases. So, there is no scope for any such apprehension that people have earlier cited that United States of America is going to acquire bases. They have neither sought nor were given any military bases in India by far. But, I will await developments in this regard and we will address every request that comes on its merits.
QUESTION (MR. NAVEEN KAPOOR, ANI): Does India envisage a role for itself in the post-war reconstruction of Afghanistan?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: I have answered that. Let me cite to you that India’s role in Afghanistan does not start now. It predates the arrival of Islam in Afghanistan. Bamiyan Buddhas were of 4th century BC.
QUESTION (MR. RAJESH MOHAPATRA, ASSOCIATED PRESS): The other day after the Cabinet Committee on Security met, you said that India was soon going to ask Pakistan to hand over Jaish-e-Muhammad Chief Maulana Masood Azhar. When is your ‘soon’ going to be? Are you waiting for the US to ban the organistation? Secondly, if Pakistan does not oblige, the way Taliban did with the US, what is going to be your response?
SHRI JASWANT SINGH: What my response would be, if Pakistan does not do x or y or z, you scarcely expect me to share with you here. As for what my soon is, please leave it to the Ministry of External Affairs to determine that soon.
If there are no questions, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for this courtesy. As I had told you last time, whenever I believe that there is need now for us to sit together, I will periodically endeavour to meet you and exchange views with you in this regard.
Text in italics is translated from Hindi.
Summary of Remarks made by EAM in response to a question from NDTV, after conclusion of his Press Conference
(In response to a question from Rajdeep Sardesai of NDTV regarding the nature of steps to be taken for a settlement of the Afghan issue, EAM said the following)
"… We are discussing the matter [military action to flush out terrorists in Kashmir] and an operation on this effect might be launched after considering all options… Those who are trying to make an issue out of it [US’ war on terrorism being termed as particularly targeting Muslims] were only helping the cause of terrorism and they will have to suffer later…"
-- Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, India, October 11, 2001
Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi
October 8, 2001
LAUNCH OF U.S. MILITARY STRIKES IN AFGHANISTAN
The anticipated military strike against Al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was, as you are aware, launched last night. These operations are part of a broader campaign against the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11th September and their supporters. President Bush had telephoned Prime Minister Vajpayee on Sunday, well before the launch of the air strikes and informed him of essential details in this regard.
As expected, the targeting has been selective, minimising the impact of the operation on the civil population. We are glad that humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan is integral to the operations.
India has long had traditionally warm and friendly ties with the people of Afghanistan. Above all, that country and its people deserve a democratic, peaceful, progressive and prosperous future. This is not possible unless peace returns early and a government representative of all elements of the Afghan society replaces the Taliban.
Promotion of terrorism is what has brought Afghanistan to this pass. That is why we welcome President Bush's statement of 7th October reiterating that the current focus on Afghanistan is part of a broader battle against terrorism. India's position on the global character of terrorism and the need for a concerted global action against terrorism everywhere is known well enough.
October 8, 2001
Joint press conference addressed by
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and
British Minister Tony Blair,
October 6, 2001 - New Delhi
The following is the transcript of the joint press conference:
Opening remarks by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee:
Mr. Prime Minister,
I welcome you warmly to India. You are on a whirlwind tour, covering three countries in two days. With this severe pressure on your time, I am very happy we have been able to prevail upon you to visit us, even though for a very short time.
Even in this brief period, we have had a meaningful and fruitful exchange of views. Before your visit, we spoke twice on the telephone- once after the terrorist attacks of September 11 in USA and again after our own tragedy in Srinagar on October 1. We continued on the same theme today- of democracy under attack from terrorism. The terrorist bomb in Srinagar hit at the symbol of the state’s democratic polity.
You, Mr. Prime Minister, have played an active role in building and strengthening the global coalition against terrorism. You have rightly warned against equating terrorism with Islam. In your recent speeches, you have underlined the importance of political will for firm action against every organization and every country which funds, arms, trains or sponsors terrorism.
For over two decades now, India has waged a virtually lone struggle against terrorism. We believe that in this globalized world, distance and time do not provide insulation from the reach of terrorism. The hijack of an aircraft from Kathmandu to Kandahar may have linkages with four other aircraft creating havoc in USA nearly two years later. This is precisely why terrorism has to be dealt with globally. Condoning a terrorist act in one place may lay the foundation for a far more virulent act elsewhere.
We discussed the sinister agenda behind the Srinagar bomb blast. Even while extending our whole-hearted support to the pursuit of the guilty terrorists of September 11, we should not let countries pursue their own terrorist agenda under cover of this action. India will remain vigilant against such threats and will counter them decisively.
We spoke today about the tragedy of Afghanistan, which is caught in a war not of its making. India has traditional ties with that country. What Afghanistan needs is a broad-based government, representative of all ethnic groups, and which does not export of insurgency and extremism as its core ideology.
Mr. Prime Minister, we have been expecting you and Mrs. Blair in India on an official bilateral visit. I want to tell you that this brief visit of a few hours does not free you from that obligation. Our bilateral relations are vibrant, and there are a number of areas in which we can further strengthen our cooperation. We hope to have you here on a full-fledged visit in the near future, so that we can focus on these matters. Meanwhile, we should keep in close touch to continue our consultations on the most crucial agenda items of the democratic world today.
Opening remarks by Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister. Can I begin by thanking you for welcoming me here today. You mentioned rightly that this visit is only of a few hours duration. I remain under obligation to come back for a more extended visit. It is an obligation I am happy to accept today and that we are trying to arrange a date in the near future so that a more extended visit can take place later. I would also like to thank you Sir and to thank your government for the very strong stand that you took right from the very outset as part of the growing and strengthening coalition against terrorism in all its forms and if I can repeat it Sir what I said in the British Parliament a couple of days ago, we extend our deepest sympathy to the families of those who are victims of the terrorist outrage in Srinagar. Such outrages have no place in any civilised society and those that perpetrate them should be brought to justice. Prime Minister, can I also say that I agree how hard you were against this and what you said about the need for Afghanistan to have a stable government that represents a broad base of all ethnic groupings within that country. I think we can see very clearly that it is essential that we take action to bring to account those who perpetrated the events of the 11th of September and that we do so in the way that it achieves two very clear objectives:
First that they are brought to justice and those terrorist camps and that terrorist network is shut down.
Secondly that we do it in a way that is proportionate and targeted and makes full allowance for the humanitarian consequences of the situation in Afghanistan and that humanitarian situation did not begin after the 11th of September, even before that there were very large numbers of refugees a very serious situation and of course the people of Afghanistan are themselves victims of the Taliban regime but I think it is a duty upon us which we as Britain will accept very clearly to make proper humanitarian positions also for people in that region. So Sir can I thank you once again for welcoming me here today and can I repeat something you said just a moment ago that relations between Britain and India are vibrant and strong we see them strengthening still further. We value enormously our relationship with yourself, the Indian Government and with the Indian people and I have no doubt at all that on the basis of this very brief visit that on my returning at a later time for a more extended visit to your country that relations can be strengthened still further. Thank you Sir".
In response to questions, the two Premiers made the following points:
Q. Andrew Mark from BBC: Could I ask the British Prime Minister he’s talked about the trap around the Taliban regime now that’s in place what hopes does he have that the regime will stop to crumble and collapse from inside without a very major military action?
BLAIR: Of course I do not want to comment on the possible nature of any such military action but the truth is that we simply do not know at the present time exactly what will happen and the consequences of it on the speed with which the Taliban regime will face the consequences of the actions that they’ve taken. What we do know is that now as we speak today many days after the 11th of September, the Taliban regime has totally failed to consider or indeed respond in any proper way to the ultimatum that was given very clearly by President Bush to them that they either yield up Bin Laden and his associates and close down those terrorist camps or they become the enemy themselves because they are harbouring the people who carried out the 11th of September outrage. We prepared people for this action taking time because we must continue until the objectives are met. I don’t think it will be sensible to try and put some time span on it with the present time. But I do repeat to you our complete determination to make sure that it is successful because we cannot allow these people to carry on doing what they have done on the 11th of September and so we will continue the action until its effective, until it achieves the objectives that we have set out.
Q. Mohan Narayan from PTI: For Mr. Blair - Pakistan is seen in this region as a focal point of terrorism. Don’t you see any inherent contradiction in seeking a role for it in the international coalition? Do you think Pakistan can deliver given its record?
BLAIR: It is important to realise that our focus is upon dealing with the situation in Afghanistan and closing down Bin Laden’s camps and his terrorist networks but we made it absolutely clear as indeed I said in the British Parliament that our attitude is to terrorism of all kinds. I hope very much that we can work to ensure that there is stability in this region but it has to be based on a proper respect for the rule of law and civilised values.
Q. John Smith from the Press Association: May I ask the British Prime Minister what role you see specifically for India in the International coalition that you have spoken of building up in the last few days in terms of a humanitarian, diplomatic and military response to the events of the 11th of September?
BLAIR: India is immensely important power in the world its support and the speed of the response of the government was hugely important both in its own terms and as a symbol of the International community’s outrage at the 11th of September and its determination to act. The Indian government has made it clear what help it can offer we’ve been immensely grateful for that and I think it is worth just pointing out that as far as India is concerned obviously one of the first countries of the world that people looked to for a strong response was India. The fact that it was forthcoming has evoked gratitude right round the world because India coming with that very strong position right on the outset was an enormous benefit and help to us and I know that it was hugely appreciated in the USA.
Q. Arnab Goswami from Star News: I wanted to ask Prime Minister Vajpayee whether he is concerned that the approach to tackling this problem as of now seems to be that of taking Afghanistan, the Taliban issue and tracking down the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of September 11th in isolation at the moment. Whether you are concerned and whether the government of India is concerned?
VAJPAYEE: No I am not in favour of taking this issue in isolation. We are fighting a global war and there has to be a global solution.
"If America could not wait for a day after black Tuesday in New York and Washington, isn’t twelve years duration too much for testing our patience… Should we wait till all of us perish … Atal Behari Vajpayee has to take a decision as to how this State will suffer due to terrorism… If Pakistan wants Farooq’s head, I will come on the border let them kill me, but allow the innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir to live in peace…
-- Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir, October 3, 2001
Joint Press Conference addressed by
Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
London, October 3, 2001
The following is the transcript of the joint press conference:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I will make a short statement, and then the Minister, and then we will be happy to take a few questions.
I have been delighted to welcome the Minister here today and after this he will be going on for a meeting with our Prime Minister.
I began by expressing on my own behalf and that of the Government of the United Kingdom, our outrage and horror at the terrorist atrocity which took place in Srinagar on 1 October. An attack right again at the heart of a democratic government, in this case at the centre of the operation of democracy, a Democratic Assembly. And I also reflected on the fact that India has lost at least 38 of its citizens in the atrocities on 11 September. I believe it is true to say, Minister, of the foreign nationals who were killed, India lost more than any other country in the world and I believe that the final figure of deaths of Indian citizens is going to be at around 250 more than British citizens, and we grieve for everyone of the souls of people who have lost their lives in those atrocities and others, whatever their citizenship, but the fact that India continues to suffer so grievously at home from terrorism and that Indian citizens suffered on 11 September illustrates that when it comes to the fight against terrorism, this really is one world and we have to be united in that fight.
I have had a long association with India. When I was the Home Minister I was involved in a lot of discussions with the Foreign Minister’s colleague, Mr. Advani, Home Minister in India, and I prescribed three Kashmiri terrorist organisations, as well as two Sikh separatist organisations all working within India or across the border. And there was some criticism of that. I think that people now have a better understanding of why we have to fight terrorism by every legitimate means at our disposal and that includes sadly, in some cases, the use of force.
I also went on then to thank the Minister and his Government for the offers of co-operation which were so willingly made by the Indian Government to its partners across the world, and we are deeply grateful for the response of the Indian Government but not in the least surprised, for two reasons. One because of India’s position as the world’s largest democracy and one of its most vibrant, and secondly because sadly it has been in the frontline of terrorism for far too long.
MR. JASWANT SINGH
Well, there is scarcely anything that I can add to what my generous and gracious host has just said. I am delighted to have this opportunity. The changed views on global and regional situations and understandably, as I am on my way directly from Washington where we had two fruitful days of discussions, I briefed my distinguished counterpart about those talks as well, and shared views with regard to the latest and most recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the terrorist attack on the symbol of democracy which is the State Assembly. This is a very grievous incident that has taken place, and it is a very sore trial that the people of India and the government of India are going through.
But I am very grateful to my distinguished colleague for the time that he has given me, and the generosity of the words that he has expressed, and I have to very shortly be with the Right Honourable Prime Minister, so whatsoever is controlling I am at your disposal.
Question ( David Loyn, BBC)
Is there anything concrete that Britain and America can do to assist India in its fight against Kashmiri terrorists. Concrete action. Some Indians want military action.
Military decisions are a matter entirely for the Indian Government and I am standing next to a man who combines two functions, for the time being, as Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, and with great respect to the American Armed Forces and our own, anybody who knows anything about the extent and the professionalism of the Indian Armed Forces will know that I don’t think that they need assistance from British or American forces.
So far as other matters are concerned, yes there are many things that we can do better to fight terrorism and that includes the kind of action which this government took last year and the year before in getting through the Terrorism Act and then as I did as Home Secretary making use of that act to proscribe organisations, to ban them, when the evidence was there, and then as my colleague, David Blunkett, is indicating that he intends to do, to seek to strengthen that legislation, those powers, so that we ensure that there are no hiding places for these terrorists.
MR. JASWANT SINGH:
Thank you, Most adequately answered. India’s fight against terrorism did not begin on Tuesday,11 September. We have been fighting against terrorism for almost two decades now. We don’t fight against terrorism for any reward from anybody. It is a national duty and an obligation. The only assistance that India seeks of the International community is an understanding, a true understanding, of the nature of the menace that terrorism is, and it has manifested itself in India, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and elsewhere in India, and most regrettably that same manifestation has now been visited upon the innocent people of the United States of America in New York.
So that global fight against terrorism cannot be selective. It cannot be unidirectional, and there is no such thing as a good terrorist and a bad terrorist, or an acceptable act of terrorism and an unacceptable act of terrorism.
Question ( TIMES OF INDIA)
I just want to ask Mr. Singh about the fruitful discussions that you say you have in Washington and London. Do these supersede your earlier reported comments that India must now take the action that it has long delayed, which was thought to indicate retaliatory must now take the action that it has long delayed to safeguard its own national security.
MR. JASWANT SINGH
That India must take its proper action. WE have exercised the greatest possible restraint in the face of the most extreme of provocation and what further action will be taken by India now I can scarcely announce here in a press conference. It will be an action that will be decided by the Union cabinet and the Government.
Have you shared with the Indian Foreign Minister the evidence you have for Bin Laden’s involvement and, if so, you tell us more about what that evidence is.
MR. JASWANT SINGH:
I must answer that the United States of America has already shared that evidence with India, with me. I must make clear India’s position in this. The only evidence, and that evidence is what we have in living with for the last twenty-odd years, is the evidence of killing of innocents that terrorists act upon. And we are in no doubt whatsoever of the extent and the spread of terrorist activity and that terrorist connections are interlinked.
I wanted to know, I believe today that Islamabad has announced that Mr. Tony Blair is going to Pakistan. So could you give a reaction to it. Will he be going to India too?
MR. JASWANT SINGH:
Isn’t the question much better addressed to the Prime Minister’s Office in 10 Downing Street.
I suggest you ask the Prime Minister’s Office
Letter to United States President George W. Bush Jr.,
Following the October 1-suicide terrorist attack on
Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Assembly
October 2, 2001
Dear Mr President,
I write this with anguish at the most recent terrorist attack in our state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has killed 27 people so far and injured over 60, through a car bomb outside the state Assembly. A Pakistan-based terrorist organisation, Jaish-e-Muhammad, claimed responsibility for the dastardly act and named a Pakistani national based in Pakistan as one of the suicide bombers involved.
There has been understandable anger in the country at this wanton act of violence. Ironically, it comes only a day after the President of Pakistan announced on television that Pakistan has no terrorist groups operating from its territory.
Mr President, the world is still coming to terms with the horrendous events of September 11.
India joined wholeheartedly with the United States in its goal for the destruction and defeat of the global terror network, which you eloquently announced in your address to the Congress. With you we condemned any nation that continues to harbour or support terrorism.
We fully understand that in resolutely countering the terrorism that attacked USA on September 11 you are discharging your core responsibility for the interest and security of the people of the United States of America.
We are with you and do not wish to overload the agenda in any way. However, incidents of this kind raise questions for our security which, as a democratically elected leader of India, I have to address in our supreme national interest. Pakistan must understand that there is a limit to the patience of the people of India.
I have asked my External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, who is now in Washington, to convey to you more fully our sentiments in this regard.
A. B. Vajpayee
Source: Press Trust of India
Minister of State for External Affairs,
October 2, 2001
" I thought I would use the opportunity to share all of you some thoughts on the necessary ingredients of any effective action against international terrorism, particularly with a bearing on this region.
>As you all know, we have, from the very beginning, declared our full support for the determination of the international community, after September 11, to eradicate this scourge.
Our support was conditioned also by our own experience in countering this menace for the past two decades. The challenge was magnified by the fact that terrorists were being financed, supported, trained, equipped and motivated from across the borders, where they also found safe haven.
Terrorism and terrorists feed on such support and today we are witness to their reach and scale.>
>The incident that that took place yesterday was a remainder of the linkage between terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir and the Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaida network.>
Pakistan, which has been the fountainhead of terrorism in this region, in Afghanistan and in India, felt compelled, in view of the magnitude of international reaction, to show support to the international effort.
Since then it has clear that these efforts are half-hearted, and Pakistan is hoping to use the umbrella of its reluctant support to the international coalition, to minimise any damage to its terrorist structure in Afghanistan, and to isolate the terrorist structure in Kashmir from the process.
The Government of India will not allow this to happen. At a time when the democratic world has formed a broad and determined coalition against terrorism, India cannot accept such manifestations of hate and terror from across its borders. There is a limit to India's patience".
[The minister referred to the attack outside Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly on 1st October 2001 for which Jaish-e-Muhammad has already claimed responsibility. The Minister also read out from the notorious call for a Holy War against Americans and Jews made by Osama Bin Laden and of which Massod Azhar General Secretary of the Harkatul Ansar (Subsequently renamed Harkatul Mujahideen) was a co-signatory.]
In response to questions the Minister made the following points:
QUESTION (MR. SATINDRA BINDRA, CNN): Are you now calling on the US to declare organisations like Jaish-e-Muhammad as terrorist groups?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: Absolutely. We will be conveying this point of view. In fact I am certain that we have already asked the United States of America to recognise more organisations than just Jaish-e-Muhammad. When the first list came out, we actually did tell the American Government that we felt there were organisations that are operating in Jammu and Kashmir, which should have found mention in the list. We have supplied names of organisations that we feel, fit the bill of international terrorist groups and should have their sources of funding and support cut off from wherever it is coming from.
QUESTION: In the unscheduled meeting that took place between Jaswant Singh and President Bush, did yesterday's terrorist attack in Srinagar find a mention?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: I would assume it did. It would be inconceivable that this did not find mention in the meeting when 29 or 30 innocent people have lost their lives and credit for it has been taken by an organisation that operates out of Pakistan.
QUESTION: Was that the reason for this unscheduled meeting?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: It was an unscheduled meeting but this was not the only reason for it. It would have featured in the discussions. You cannot schedule an unscheduled meeting on the basis of one particular event. It was to cover a much wider spectrum, post 11 September, of what the United States Government plans are in the region and what India's support has been. There is also the very important bilateral aspect of India-US relationship, which will not change.
Another important aspect that must be kept in mind is that Pakistan has continually talked about giving moral, political, diplomatic support. Except for the military support, they have talked about offering every other support to militants and terrorist operating in Jammu and Kashmir. This, we believe, is in direct contravention of the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 that was adopted under Chapter 7 on the 20th September. We all know what Chapter 7 of the UN Security Council implies. The Resolution says, "All States shall refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to terrorism". Keeping this Resolution of UN Security Council in mind, we would now like to call upon Pakistan to cease any support, whether active or passive, to the militant groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
QUESTION (MR. TARASHANKAR, REDIFF.COM): Would you give us the names of the organisations which India wants outlawed?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: Names are there for you to see. Lashkar-e-Tayyiba; Jaish-e-Muhammad; Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and all other militant organisations that are operating, that have taken credit for numerous incidents of violence directed against minority communities in Jammu and also attacks in Kashmir recently.
QUESTION (MR. AJAY KUMAR, AAJ TAK): You have said that there is a limit to India's patience. The international coalition led by the US has been talking about attacking terrorist outfits. And you have been talking about terrorist training camps in Pakistan. Would you tell the US to take action against the terrorist training camps located in the Pak-occupied Kashmir?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: We have already said this to the US and the international coalition against terrorism. We are ready to accept when they say that in the first phase of operations Al Qaeda and Osama-bin-Laden and others be targeted. They themselves said that this fight against terrorism would not end there, that there would be another phase which would deal with other terrorist groups. We told them not to forget that the organisations which are engaged in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir today are the same organisations which have very credible links with Al Qaeda.
QUESTION: Would you ask the international coalition forces that they should take action against terrorist groups working from the Pak-occupied Kashmir?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: There are many ways of taking action against them. There are many ways of shutting them down. Pakistan says that it is giving diplomatic, financial and political support. If Pakistan stops this support of theirs, many such operations will stop and we would be happy with it. We are not asking them to bomb these camps. We are just saying that since this international coalition against terrorism has been set up and a set of terrorist groups are being attacked in the first phase, in the second phase the terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir should be dealt with. Pakistan says that it is an internal freedom fight. It is not so. If it has been an internal freedom fight, there would not have been the kind of interactions that we have witnessed, only Kashmiris would have been involved in it. It seems Jaish-e-Muhammad has said that the person who carried out yesterday's attack in Srinagar is a Pakistani from Peshawar. So, how can it be called an internal freedom fight?
QUESTION (MR. ABHIGYAN, NDTV): Taking this argument further, there was a debate in the Government earlier about the whole policy of hot pursuit. Has that changed today? Is India today not willing perhaps to bomb these terrorist camps? There is enough evidence available as to where these camps are and which are these organisations. Has that position changed now?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: There has been no change of Government's position. All we are saying is that enough is enough. Even today we are willing to talk about what is happening. In the press statement, what we have said is very clear. The message that we have conveyed through Mr. Jaswant Singh to the US Government and to Pakistan as well is that there is a limit to India's patience. I am not saying that that limit has already reached. But, incidents like this will definitely further reinforce that position.
QUESTION: Is there still a view in the Government that perhaps one way out of this problem now is to bomb these camps?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: Our Government, by its very nature, is a democratic form of Government. So, there will be views in favour and there will no doubt be views contrary to this. At the end of the day what emerges is a concrete Government policy. That concrete Government policy emerges after taking all views into consideration. Right now, there is no change in Government's policy.
QUESTION: Which is not to target the camps?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: Which is not, as he has termed it, hot pursuit.
QUESTION (MR. VIJAY NAIK, SAKAL): You have said that the democratic coalition is going to take up action against Al Qaeda and others in the first phase. You say that the organisations which are working in Jammu and Kashmir are also of the same kind; that they are also creating the same kind of terror there. Do you want the democratic coalition to take up action against these organisations in the first phase itself? What is the Government's response to what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir apart from what the democratic coalition is going to do?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: We continue to work with the international coalition by providing intelligence and information that we have at our disposal. The information we have at our disposal is that there are very credible links between the organisation that attempted bombing the Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday and the Al Qaeda network that is responsible for what happened in the USA on the 11th of September. That being the case, we would like that the international community recognise our concerns and do something about them.
QUESTION: In the first phase itself?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: The first phase talks about Al Qaeda network as it is and also targeting the financial and other links of this organisation. Now we have shown a credible link between this organisation and Al Qaeda. I think in the first phase, it must at least find mention in the organisations that are to be banned and their sources of funding and all other aspect of it cut off.
QUESTION: Has Prime Minister written any letter in this regard?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: There is a letter that Prime Minister Vajpayee addressed to President Bush yesterday. It begins with this tragic incident of the bombing in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday. It talks pretty much of what I am saying. It starts by saying, "I write this with anguish at the most recent terrorist attack in our state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has killed 27 people so far and injured over 60, through a car bomb outside the state parliament. A Pakistan-based terrorist organisation, Jaish-e-Muhammad, claimed responsibility for the dastardly act and named a Pakistani national based in Pakistan as one of the suicide bombers involved." It also says, "…incidents of this kind raise questions for our security which, as a democratically elected leader of India, I have to address in our supreme national interest. Pakistan must understand that there is a limit to the patience of the people of India."
QUESTION: You said that bombing the camps across the border would not help and that it would work if the financial links of these terrorist groups are cut off. Such links can be cut off only if Pakistan is interested in doing so. And given the fact that Pakistan is strategically important for America's, do you feel that Pakistan would agree to take such a step? If Pakistan does not take such a step, would India sit quiet and do nothing?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: There is no question of sitting quiet. We have not done it till now and we will not do so in future. We have to look at the issue from this point of view. We have a resolution of US Security Council adopted under Chapter 7 which says that every form of support to terrorist organisations should stop. The financial aspect of the support is categorically mentioned in this resolution. It says - criminalised provisioning or collection of funds for such purposes. The Jehadi camps in Pakistan which collect donations outside mosques are covered under this. So, they should stop that activity. All these things are mentioned here. We will try that these Resolutions are implemented.
QUESTION: Have you identified the terrorist groups working in India? If so, are you going to freeze their accounts?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: Terrorist organisations, unfortunately, do not maintain their accounts in India. Where such evidence comes to surface they will be frozen, if they have not already been frozen.
QUESTION: We understand the position of the Government clearly. For the moment you are ruling out hot pursuit or any military action.
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: For the present moment the Government of India will take whatever action is needed to deal with the terrorism that has been directed against India. We would not, under the current circumstances, like to do anything to exasperate the situation. That having been said, as I have mentioned, the patience of India is limited. In the current situation, Government of India is not advocating any action termed as 'hot pursuit', 'covert action' or whatever you would like to call it. But it is not an indefinite situation. Attacks like this only go to further increase public anger. That public anger can only be directed in one direction, and that is, the source from which this terrorist violence emanates.
QUESTION (GUJARAT SAMACHAR): If India goes on displaying patience in this manner, would it not reflect is weakness that it cannot help itself?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: No, it is not that. Sometimes strength is also displayed in similar ways. It may not be a fitting example, but India won its freedom through the struggle pursued through nonviolent means. It may have taken longer to do so but it was still a struggle that is steeped in our history. So, let us not assume that patience in this is a sign of weakness. Patience is a sign of strength that we are willing even now to pay a very heavy cost of lives, and we are willing to bear the political cost for the time being. As I said very clearly, there is a limit to how much and how soon. There is no time frame on this. I cannot tell you that our patience will be exhausted tomorrow or when another 100 people lose their lives. What I will tell you is that there is a limit to this patience and that it would be better that this limit not be tested.
QUESTION: Does it not amount to going back to what our Prime Minister has said not just in his present letter to President Bush, but two years back from the Red Fort? India is consistently saying things but not backing them up with any action whatsoever? What is the point in saying things like, 'our patience is running out', and 'enough is enough'? What is the purpose of all this talk?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: The purpose is to reinforce our position to Pakistan keeping in mind the current situation which has changed from what it was two years ago. Two years ago world opinion against terrorism was not nearly as focussed as it is today. The situation has changed dramatically now. In today's situation, we feel that there is a consistent world opinion against terrorism. Under such circumstances, there is only so much India can take.
QUESTION: You say, 'enough is enough' and then you say, 'we would not like to do anything to exasperate the situation'. Can you explain the contradiction?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: I also said that there is a limit to our patience. I did not say that our patience has been reached. As I talk to you right now, our security forces and intelligence agencies are taking action. All I said is that it would be better if Pakistan takes necessary steps to stop what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir because at the end of the day that is the source of all this terrorism. Otherwise, India's patience will be tested and then what will happen will be for the Government to decide.
QUESTION: In case the US does not launch phase two which could cover terrorist camps in Kashmir, do you think that the only way out then would be a unilateral action?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: With the UN Security Council Resolution which we have in front of us, I do not expect a situation wherein the US will be satisfied only with completing its action against Osama-bin-Laden and the Al Qaeda network. I think consistently the world has come to recognise that while immediate concern might be that one organisation and its one leader, there is a hinterland to this terrorism and that hinterland spreads wide. No concerted action against terrorism can be begin and end with one organisation or one person. So, I do not anticipate a scenario where phase two would not come into operation.
QUESTION (ASSOCIATE PRESS OF PAKISTAN): Pakistan condemned the terrorist attack that had taken place in Srinagar yesterday. Would you like to comment on it?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: I am glad they did it. Since the person and the organisation are based in Pakistan, keeping n mind the Resolution that is in place, we would like Pakistan now to put, for want of a better face, its money where it is mouth is and naturally do something about this organisation.
QUESTION (ASSOCIATE PRESS OF PAKISTAN): Do you appreciate it?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: We do appreciate it, but we would appreciate action much more than words.
QUESTION (MR. SOURABH SHUKLA, HINDUSTAN TIMES): What would exactly be the strategy that would be adopted by India in the light of what has happened yesterday?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: Our strategy has not changed. We continue to work with the international coalition that is building up against terrorism. We continue to interact at the highest levels with the Governments that are leading at the forefront of this effort. At the same time, we continue to deal with this unfortunate situation in Jammu and Kashmir the way we have done all this while.
QUESTION: Don't you think that we need something more than that, something more concrete?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: We do not want the situation to reach a level whereby it is this feeling that has to be reflected in Government of India's policy. As I said, I have seen for myself the level of anguish that is being felt by the people of India at the everyday killings of innocent people in Jammu and Kashmir and in other parts of the country. It is not possible for a Government to go on day in and day out disregarding this growing feeling. As I said, a time must come when our patience must run out.
QUESTION (MS. SONIYA TRIKHA, INDIAN EXPRESS): You have been talking about world opinion and how it is going to help us. What kind of support in the form of world opinion have you had since yesterday's incident in Jammu and Kashmir?
You have said that you have been speaking to the US. By US do you mean the international coalition or do you mean that we are now looking at the United States to solve all our problems for us?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: There have been outpourings of condemnation of this incident of violence that took place in Kashmir yesterday.
Coming to the second question, we are not looking at the US to solve all our problems for us. But let us not kill ourselves, the US is at the forefront of this campaign against terrorism. We talk to the US but that does not mean we do not talk to others as well. Let us not forget that on his way to the US, Mr. Jaswant Singh stopped over in France and met the President of France as well. On his way back he will also stop in another country. While we address this in general terms to the US because it is at the forefront of this coalition, we continue to work with other equally important countries as well.
QUESTION (DR. AHMED, MIDDLE-EAST BROADCASTING): You are accusing Pakistan to be behind the group which has claimed responsibility for the attack of yesterday in Srinagar. Do you think that it is the intention of Pakistan that they want you to act in haste after this?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: My fear after we saw that Pakistan was abandoning the Taliban to assist the US has been, I have said this to numerous other people of the press corps that I have spoken to, that while I would like to see the evidence of the militant groups going back to Pakistan to fight in Pakistan, I personally believe that rather than seeing a de-escalation of violence we will see an escalation. The logic for that is very simple. When you take a fundamentally unpopular decision of supporting the US in their action against Taliban, you must counter it by doing something which is equally popular in your country. And the one thing that is popular in Pakistan is to play the Kashmir card. Unfortunately, what we saw outside the Assembly yesterday is a clear evidence whereby they targeted the very fundamental democratic institution of the people of Jammu and Kashmir where their representatives go to address their concerns.
QUESTION: Coming back to what happened, you have ruled out hot pursuit or any stronger action.
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: I have ruled that out for now.
QUESTION: Yet you say that whatever action needed will be taken. At the moment, what would that action be?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: I think I have already addressed this in the other answers. I have said that we will continue to work with the international coalition that is building up against terrorism be it intelligence sharing or other aspects. I said that enough is enough, that our patience has run out. Then, I have talked about a situation where India will take the lead in whatever action has to be taken. I am not saying that that situation has reached. What I am saying is that our patience is reaching the end.
QUESTION: When do you think India will run out of its patience? Here was a situation where the people's institution in Srinagar has been attacked. What is your Lakshman Rekha? Do you think you will run out of patience if the Parliament House or Air India building are something of that stature is attacked?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: That is a nice question but it is not possible to quantify it. How can you quantify it? I am not in a position to pre-suppose what militants are going to do. How can I tell you if an attack on a democratic institution will be enough or incidents like we saw in the United States of America on September 11 would be enough. To say that I will have to presuppose what the militants are going to do, which I cannot. If I could, I would know exactly how far we will go and no further. They have consistently been able to surprise us with what they did. I do not want to presuppose as to when that point will reach. But I can say that there is a section of Indian population that believes that that point has already been reached.
QUESTION: What assurance did Mr. Singh get from America that Kashmir would be included in any kind of action?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: In my opening remarks itself I have been able to establish a link for you between organisations that are bombing in Jammu and Kashmir and the Al Qaeda. Now, if you believe that it is only Al Qaeda that is global, how do they have global links? They have global links because they have got networks like Jaish-e-Muhammad and others operating in Kashmir. No terrorist organisation is able to operate in isolation. Thy are, by their very nature, international groups. Let me put it even more expressly. At the last count, from the intelligence that I have seen from the Jammu and Kashmir intelligence agencies, of 16 different nationalities of militants who have been either caught or killed operating in Kashmir, there have been people who have been persuaded by these people of Jehadi and the holy war that have come from countries as far as Chechnya, Bosnia, Sudan, etc. So, if this is not terrorism of international nature, I would like to see what is then?
QUESTION (E TV): You have asked Pakistan to stop aiding and giving terrorist outfits. But, PTV has said that it is the Indian Army which was responsible for the attack in Srinagar yesterday. It also said that no militant outfit has taken responsibility for this attack. How do you react to this?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: If I have to respond to every piece of propaganda that came from PTV, we will have to have a 24-hour press conference and I will be sitting here 24 hours of the day. If anybody, except for fiction writers like Tom Clancy, can believe that a Government will launch an operation or strikes against its own population for whatever objective, then honestly that person should be writing books for sale in the market. It is inconceivable that India would attack its own Legislative Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir just to prove to the world that terrorism exists there. If that was the case, then a far more potent signal to send out for us is to plant a bomb outside our own Parliament House. If we were doing it, then what stopped us from doing so. So, Let us not get into what PTV says.
QUESTION: Have you sent a diplomatic note to Pakistan formally protesting the attack?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: Not that I know of. We are doing it the way Pakistan does.
QUESTION: How seriously do you take the response of terrorists going nuclear, particularly after September 11?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: I am not an intelligence export, and let us not kill ourselves that I get to see all the reports. I have difficulty envisaging a situation whereby militants would be able to equip themselves with nuclear bombs. They have not been able to go beyond stringer missiles and there is a long gap between that and nuclear technology. While we have difficulty taking Gen. Musharraf's word on a lot of things, I would like to take solace from the fact that he says that Pakistan's command and control network is strong enough for the fundamentalist elements not to be able to take control of the nuclear arsenal that Pakistan has developed.
QUESTION: Is there any contingency plan at all?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: I am sure there will be contingency plans. But you would hardly expect us to say what they are.
QUESTION (INDO-ASIAN NEWS AGENCY): The Prime Minister yesterday took a very conscious decision to convey this warning to Pakistan that our patience is running out, through the letter he wrote to the US President. Is this an indication that we are no longer willing to talk to Pakistan directly?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: We will talk to Pakistan directly at the right time, at the right place. Right now, it is neither the right time nor the right place. We have in the past used these means to drawing the attention of Pakistan to concerns that we have and this will continue. We have said that right now Pakistan seems to have far more pressing concerns vis-à-vis its domestic situation and what is happening in Afghanistan, to be able to carry out any meaningful dialogue under the circumstances.
QUESTION: A Minister of Jammu and Kashmir said to our correspondent that following yesterday's attack, the State Government would be enacting a law according to which terrorists can be dealt with in more effective manner. Was there any discussion on this?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: There is no discussion about this legislation from our side. Under the provisions of our Constitution, it is the States which enact such laws. It would be better if you ask such questions to the Chief Ministers or the Law Ministers of the States.
QUESTION: Do you foresee any de-escalation in the situation in Kashmir if a broad-based Government, which includes the Northern Alliance, is installed in Afghanistan?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: If a broad-based Government is installed in Afghanistan, it would of course include the elements of Northern Alliance and there is no doubt about that. To some extent it would have its effect on Jammu and Kashmir inasmuch as there are a few camps operating in Afghanistan where people are feeding militants into Jammu and Kashmir. But, for any real meaningful de-escalation, it would have to take Pakistan to stop aiding and abetting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. What happens in Afghanistan will have much less effect.
QUESTION: Till now, US Administration has issued a one-line statement condemning the Srinagar blast of yesterday. Are you satisfied with the response of the US Administration?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: A lot of things are going on in the course of discussions which do not feature in press conferences or press statements. I can assure you that the forty-minute meeting between Mr. Jaswant Singh and the President of the US would not have amounted to just a one-line condemnation of what is happening. So, we are satisfied that the international coalition that is building up against terrorism is taking note of the concerns that we have. All that we want now is that these concerns to be acted upon.
QUESTION: The attacks of suicide bombers have been increasing lately. Do you think that the strategy of terrorists has changed recently? What is the Government of India and its intelligence agencies doing in this regard?
SHRI OMAR ABDULLAH: How can you do anything against a person who wants to commit suicide? You can gear up your intelligence agencies and you can beef up your ground-based security. How can we stop a person who is ready to lose his life and to kill others also along with him? It is very difficult to stop such terrorist activities. Such attacks started taking place for the past two years starting from Badami Bagh to Red Fort and now here. It seems from this that conventional terrorism that we have seen in Jammu and Kashmir from 1990 to 1997-98 has changed its form and that the terrorists are changing their strategy.
Text in italics is translated from Hindi.
UN Security Council Resolution on International Terrorism,
October 1, 2001
The positive step taken by the UN Security Council in the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1373 on September 28,2001 signals the global nature of international terrorism and the need for comprehensive international cooperation in combating it. The resolution calls upon all States to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts; to prohibit their nationals from making any resources or services available to those who commit or participate in terrorist acts; to suppress recruitment for terrorist groups; eliminate the supply of weapons to them; to deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support or commit terrorist acts; and to prevent terrorists from using their territories for terrorist acts against other states or citizens. The resolution, thus, provides a framework for collective action.
India has been a victim of terrorism for more than a decade. We hope that the resolve of the international community is now translated into concrete action through effective implementation and regular monitoring by the Security Council. We will continue to press for the early finalisation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism presented by India.
October 1, 2001
"… If those who are raising their voice against terrorism today had spoken against the menace when India had become its victim, the picture would have been different… [terrorism] does not recognise any boundary or religion, does not value human life… [In the past, the US gave only] sympathy and nothing else … Probably they thought India and Jammu and Kashmir were far away, across the seven seas and they (US) will be safe as no one will target them. But terrorism does not recognise distance and you saw what happened on September 11… At that time, US Congress members did not take it seriously, but are now doing so in this hour of crisis…"
-- Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, India, September 28, 2001
"We are not worried about this [US-Pakistan cooperation]. We, as a government, have always wanted that the world powers should unite and create a front against terrorism. The democratic powers of the world, especially, should acknowledge the seriousness of the problem. They should realise that if today India is the victim of this evil, tomorrow they might have to face it too."
"These organisations [Pakistan-based terrorist outfits] have international connections. We all know that the main source of terrorism in Kashmir Valley is Pakistan. And Pakistani terrorists have close links with Al Qaida. Our security forces have found … bin Laden’s photographs with killed or captured Pakistani-Afghani terrorists. There is clear evidence that these organisations have international links."
"I don't know if these two countries [Pakistan and US] are really getting closer. But as a matter of fact, geographically it is Pakistan to whom America could ask for assistance. And the second important factor is that Pakistan has the friendliest of relations with the Taliban. So, I believe that the recent close ties between the two countries are more to do with socio-geographical factor."
"Yes, I agree with you [that the US is now acknowledging terrorism as a problem]. But things have changed after September 11. Now international powers are realising that to fight terrorism is not an easy task, especially when some nations are supporting it. Look, fighting against terrorist organisations is not taught anywhere and India is capable enough to give them lessons. But the active support of any nation to terrorists make things difficult. A terrorist state is more serious a problem to tackle."
"… I read an article in a daily about America’s stand on IRA (Irish Republican Army). I have gone through a list of organisation labelled as terrorist outfits by America. In that list, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and IRA have been listed under the same category. These organisations are declared terrorists but not banned, while Al Quaida is in the banned category."
"I think September 11 is a turning point in many ways against terrorism all over the world. Don’t try to evaluate America’s alliance with Pakistan in this light. Any other country would have followed the (same) strategy to take along Pakistan for the benefit of its geographical location and its relations with Afghanistan. It is true that before September 11, America’s policies were driven by its self-interest. Although right now I cannot say that there is a real change in America’s attitude, we should be optimistic that America will take a stand against terrorism as a whole and not only against bin Laden, as President Bush has assured again and again in his speech."
"There was a time when to tackle the Punjab problem seemed an impossible task. We lost so many lives, even a Prime Minister, because of unrest in that part of the country. But India successfully fought that battle and won without any external support. And I believe that one day we will solve the Kashmir issue with our own strength. Yes, if other countries support us it would be better, but we are not dependent on America or any other country."
"… we are not dependent, but if America supports us that would be better. We have extended all support to America because it is willing to fight against terrorism. It’s an international problem and a united front is the need of the hour. America has asked for intelligence support and we have given it. We will support America in any front without compromising our sovereignty."
"We will consider it [extending military support to the US] if America asks for it. But I don’t think America needs it. But we will consider every aspect of helping them, even the matter of refuelling their warplanes."
"Right now we are looking forward to America’s move and the prospects of our contribution in the mission. A lot more is going to happen in that region in the coming days. We are keeping an eye on the scenario. The government has taken all the necessary measures to handle any situation and to maintain religious harmony in the country."
"I have never used this word [‘hot pursuit’ of terrorists across the Line of Control] during [the] last three-and-half years of our government. I always use proactive. Whatever steps we have taken against militancy were not initiated in the last 10 years. We have identified 110 ISI bases all over the country and eliminated them. This is simply not a small achievement."
"Officially, we may not have issued a white paper on ISI but we prepared a report on that basis on which we have taken action. One reason for not taking out a white paper is that there are always PILs (public interest litigations) against such reports, which obstructs action."
"We are providing information about the terrorist training camps active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact we have told the American intelligence agencies about 126 militants who have taken shelter in these countries after performing the terrorist activities in India. Interpol had issued the red cornered warrant for them."
-- L. K. Advani, Home Minister, India, Excerpts from an interview to The Newspaper Today, New Delhi.
-- Atal Behar Vajpayee, Prime Minister, India, September 27, 2001
"Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. Omar Abdullah was meeting with 24 Heads of Missions of Arab and Central Asian countries to discuss current developments. The purpose was to exchange views on and to explain interalia, India’s position that the fight against terrorism was not a fight against Islam and that terrorism was in no way synonymous with Islam. Our view was also that the fight against terrorism would be a long drawn out struggle and that any action undertaken in this regard should not disturb regional peace and stability.
-- Nirupama Rao, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, India, September 27, 2001
… The Government had stated its position regarding our unconditional support to the United States, and this had been clearly articulated in the Prime Minister’s letter as well as his telephonic conversation with President Bush… Exchange of information and intelligence sharing defines the nature of cooperation, as of now. However, this could be expanded depending on the specific request received from the U.S. Our offer of support remained open… there had been no request for military help, so far… One of the areas of concern in the process of coalition building and dialogue with like minded countries was to try and find solutions including seeking consensus on the establishment of a broad based and multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan…"
-- Nirupama Rao, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, India, September 27, 2001
-- Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir, September 25, 2001
"The Home Minister, Shri L.K. Advani today said that the Joint Working Groups set up with the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany and Israel to eradicate the menace of terrorism should start functioning actively … it is now clear after the Washington and New York bombings that terrorism is a global menace not limited to a particular country or people … the global realization about the devastating effect of terrorism after these tragic events would go a long way towards fighting the menace threatening the civil society … America has come face to face with terrorism only recently, while India is battling it for a long time and also urging the civilized world to wake up to the menace… the Mumbai blasts of 1993 … took a toll of 253 of innocent lives… New Delhi has been making systematic efforts to forge ties with other democratic countries for the last few years to face this challenge jointly..."
-- Press Release, Press Information Bureau, Government of India, September 24, 2001