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We will not negotiate with terror: PM

Aziz Haniffa at the United Nations | September 25, 2003 20:49 IST
Last Updated: September 25, 2003 21:05 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday termed Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's offer of cessation of violence in Kashmir as an admission of sponsoring terrorism.

Addressing the 58th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the PM said Musharraf, "after claiming that there is an indigenous struggle in Kashmir, has offered to encourage a general cessation of violence within Kashmir, in return for 'reciprocal obligations and restraint'".

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"If we do, we would be betraying the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who defied a most ferocious campaign of violence and intimidation sponsored from across our borders, and participated in an election that has been universally hailed as free and fair. This was an unequivocal expression of both determination and self-determination.

"We totally refuse to let terrorism become a tool of blackmail. Just as the world did not negotiate with Al Qaeda or the Taliban, we shall not negotiate with terrorism.

"When cross-border terrorism stops -- or when we eradicate it -- we can have a dialogue with Pakistan on the other issues between us."

Taking another hefty swipe at Pakistan, which US intelligence has revealed has made clandestine transfers of nuclear weapons technology to North Korea in return for ballistic missiles purchases -- notably the NoDong missile -- Vajpayee said the UN "should be particularly concerned at the recent revelations about clandestine transfers of weapons of mass destruction and their technologies".

The PM reminded the assembly of the prospect of such weapons and technologies falling into the hands of terrorists. "Surely, something needs to be done about the helplessness of international regimes in preventing such transactions, which clearly threaten international security," he said.

India has been peeved with the Bush Administration for not coming down hard on Pakistan for its role in proliferation because of strategic expediency -- the most immediate being Islamabad serving as an ally in war in Afghanistan.

Vajpayee also slammed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which India has refused to sign. "The same regimes expend considerable energy in imposing a variety of discriminatory technology-denial restrictions on responsible states."

However, the PM acknowledged: "Our preoccupation with terrorism should not dilute our commitment to tackle the non-military threats to human and international security."

In this regard the world has to "sustain the fight against trafficking in narcotic drugs, human beings and small arms, the pandemic of HIV/AIDS, diseases like malaria and tuberculosis that grip developing countries and the degradation of our common environment. Food security, energy security and health security are important goals."

Earlier in his speech, Vajpayee, reflecting India's frustration over its bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council being in limbo for years, said, "For the Security Council to represent genuine multilaterism in its decisions and actions, its membership must reflect current world realities.

"Most UN members today recognise the need for an enlarged and restructured Security Council, with more developing countries as permanent and non-permanent members.

"The permanent members guard their exclusivity. Some states with weak claims want to ensure that others do not enter the Council as permanent members. This combination of complacency and negativism has to be countered with a strong political will."

He argued that the recent crisis over Iraq at the UN "warn us that until the Security Council is reformed and restructured, its decisions cannot reflect truly the collective will of the community of nations".

Vajpayee acknowledged that the "Iraq issue continues to present a major challenge to the United Nations. At this point of time, it is not very productive to linger on the past. Our thoughts and concerns should be about the suffering of the people of Iraq. It is imperative that the people of Iraq should be empowered to determine their own future, to rebuild their nation".

In this regard, Vajpayee said, it is the UN that must take the lead. "This has been acknowledged both by those who had opposed military action and by those who did not seek specific UN endorsement of it."

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