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Rediff.com  » News » India's no-vote on Libya based on 'misinformation': US

India's no-vote on Libya based on 'misinformation': US

April 26, 2011 11:34 IST

The Obama administration has rationalised India's abstention last month on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, calling for a no-fly zone in strife-torn Libya, as based on part misinformation and part going along with its Brazil, Russia, and China partners.

Rediff.com spoke to the administration's point man for South Asia, Assistant Secretary of State Robert O Blake, who said that Washington was disappointed over India's no-vote on the resolution, particularly after President Obama endorsed New Delhi's bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

"I would say that there's been quite an interesting evolution in India's UN votes," he said. For example, some human rights issues on Libya, there has been some forward progress in that area. India has always voted in a way that we would regard as positive."

He said the best example of India's positive vote as far as the United States was concerned "was with regard to the International Atomic Energy Agency with respect to Iran," where the US-led coalition has tried to isolate Teheran alleging that it was developing a nuclear weapon.

He said, "On the narrow question of Libya, a lot of that was influenced by incorrect reports in the beginning that there were high civilian casualties on the part of coalition aircraft that were carrying out their responsibilities under the UNSC."

"Those, as I say, were incorrect. They were also influenced by how other BRIC countries were voting." he said. The senior US State Department official reiterated, "India, by and large, has been supportive of what's going on in Libya and we have a very good dialogue going forward on that."

Leading experts on South Asia have pilloried India's abstention and said it's a return to the 'old think' by India.

Both in interviews with rediff.com and articles in prestigious publications such as Foreign Policy, these experts argued that 'great powers have to make choices in international affairs, because that's what makes them great powers.'

Dan Twining, for example, a senior fellow for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said, "India's current two-year UNSC rotation was always going to be a litmus test for New Delhi's ability to be a constructive player at the high table of world politics."

He added, "It is ironic that India, which intervened in 1971 to prevent a civilian bloodbath in Bangladesh's independence struggle, intervened in Sri Lanka in 1987 for similar reasons, and has played a crucial role supporting democratic solutions to civil conflicts in Nepal, Afghanistan and elsewhere, decided that the same values of democracy and human rights that govern its own society are not for New Delhi to protect and advance elsewhere."

Twining said that while he wouldn't call India's decision to abstain as "a betrayal," it was "such a deep disappointment for those of us who believed that with India now as a member of the Council, would exercise a leadership role on issues like that."

"That India would move away from the India of old where it wouldn't take decisions but would simply be weak and retreat to a safe route and abstain or vote against such humanitarian resolutions," he added.
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC