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September 7, 2000
Dear Prime Minister Vajpayee
As one of the representatives of a million strong Indian community in America, we welcome you. We would hope that your visit leads to a further consolidation of the relationship between two of the largest secular democracies. As NRIs with our kith and kin in India and as the country where many of us grew up, we have special reasons to wish you and the people of India well.
Our group, USIndiaRelations Internet Forum, is involved in lobbying American legislators, as well as in informing Think Tanks, the media, and the American public to help foster better India-US relations. In the course of our work we have developed an understanding of the issues facing India as well as the interests and the needs of the US. As NRI well-wishers, we are in a position to offer you words of encouragement, advice and help.
The recent advance India has made in information technology is admirable. Unfortunately, around the world, news from India is still dominated by terrorism and associated killings. The impression that is being conveyed around the world is that of a country that is not stable and secure, and a government that is not very effective in dealing with crises facing the country. The ability of NRIs to lobby on India's behalf is hampered by these ground realities as well as the perceptions of such realities. If India wants itself to be taken seriously and be respected as a nation, it must put its house in order.
There are larger issues at stake for India by letting the insurgencies in Kashmir and the northeast fester. The much-needed resources for improving infrastructure and development are being drained in fighting terrorism. This does and will seriously hamper growth, and increase the chances of the country being balkanized. Instabilities also curtail foreign investment. Under these circumstances, it is doubtful how India can fend off long-term challenges from powerful China, its client state Pakistan, and others.
In 1947, Muslims asked for a country and they got it. Since then, Pakistan especially, and Bangladesh to some extent, has seen extensive ethnic cleansing and discriminatory Islamic laws which have driven out almost all non-Muslims to India. While non-Muslim migration from constitutionally Islamic states of Bangladesh and Pakistan is understandable, Muslims crossing illegally into India further compound the problem. Illegal Muslims must be found and sent back to their countries. There is a vital human rights issue at stake for India -- the right of the subcontinent's non-Muslims -- Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists -- to have a secular land where they are not discriminated against, where they feel secure, and lead successful lives. We urge that India use this justifiable human rights doctrine to eradicate Pakistan sponsored Islamic terrorism.
In Kashmir, India faces cold-blooded Islamic terrorists. All options must be considered in eradicating Islamic terrorism. A significant section of the population in Kashmir has been involved in ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims starting with Kashmir 1989, now extended to Jammu and to cap it all, it resulted in the recent killings of Hindu pilgrims. Half-measures have led to the continuation of the problem.
The lesson for India is that the interests and long-term welfare of its people come well ahead of the "human rights" of terrorists and their supporters. No one should have the right to violate law and order under any pretext -- including the so-called right to "self-determination". The "self-determination" claim by Kashmiri Muslims in reality has turned out to be a pretext for genocide and extermination of the native non-Muslims. Any civilised and competent state would find ways to punish those who violate law.
Even the peace process you have initiated is unlikely to sustain if the killers and their cohorts are not punished, if not eradicated. In the long run, India should act to ensure that radicalisation of Indian Muslims is stopped and Islam inspired extremism discredited publicly.
We also want to point out the significant land claims India has over Pakistan due to ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims from Pakistan. This has potential as a strategic leverage in any future dealings with Pakistan. Raising the issue of ethnic cleansing in Pakistan since 1947 should discredit Pakistan in international forums and enable India to adopt tough measures in dealing with the problem.
Mr Prime Minister, India has already lost a substantial portion of its ancient land to Pakistan and Bangladesh due to Islamic terrorism. If you and your government do not take strong and effective measures to eradicate terrorism, the economic well-being and even the very survival of India is at stake. We, the NRIs, are here to help. But, you must take the first bold step of going after the terrorists and their cohorts, like the brilliant move you made when you let India go nuclear in 1998.
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