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Home > News > The Gulf War II > Report

Congress against sending troops to Iraq

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | June 08, 2003 02:04 IST

The Congress party has opposed any move to send Indian troops to Iraq to help the United States-led provincial authority in the maintenance of law and order.

In a letter sent to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on June 4, Congresschief Sonia Gandhi asserted Indian troops should not work under any authority other than the United Nations.

J N Dixit, former foreign secretary and one of the advisers to Gandhi on international relations, told "Congress party has taken a rational stand after considering all the factors."

"Indian troops have never gone to any other country outside India except on invitation of the host country, or they have gone to help tackle neighbourhood insurgencies or under the United Nations umbrella," he said, explaining the logic behind the party's stand.

Gandhi wrote it will be a deviation from the 'fundamental principle' India has adhered to if the troops are sent to Iraq to operate under American command.

"As of today there is no command structure existing within Iraq. Even while serving abroad Indian troops have practically served under Indian commanders. Here in Iraq Indian soldiers will have to serve directly under an American commander," Dixit said.

Dixit said if Indian troops are sent to Iraq it will have far-reaching implications. He claimed that 'unpleasant tasks' will be assigned to Indians. He said in view of the increasing resentment against the presence of US troops in Iraq it is not 'worth' taking up the task of 'stabilisation'.

People of Iraq, he said, respect India and our troops operating withinthat countrymay not be appreciated. "The majority of Indians have not supported the American attack against Iraq," he added.

Congress also believes that India will get a lot of flak from other Muslim countries and within India too if troops are sent.

Though the Vajpayee government has deferred the decision on sending troops to the West Asian country, it has given enough indications that it is not totally averse to the idea. The government has said that it is seeking clarifications from the UN regarding the command structure operative in Iraq.

Dixit also dismisses the contention that sending Indian troops to Iraq could have diplomatic and monetary advantages for India. "On the issue of Pakistan, America is not doing anything concrete. Its pressure on Pakistan is verbal only," he said.

But the Congress is in favour of sending a team of doctors and teachers to help the Iraqi people, and experts to train their police.

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