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Pakistan is the hotbed of Al Qaeda: Advani

Dharam Shourie in Chicago | June 13, 2003 13:50 IST

Pakistan is the hotbed of the Al Qaeda terrorist network, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani has said and pointed out that Islamabad continued to engage in cross border terrorism despite New Delhi's peace initiative.

It is well known, Advani said, that the main source of international terrorism lies in Pakistan, both ideologically and operationally.

Many Pakistan-based groups carrying out terrorist activities against India have links with the Al Qaeda, he told a gathering at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday.

Advani pointed out that though India has the second largest Muslim population after Indonesia, none of the Al Qaeda operatives caught by the United States come from India.

The reason, he told the audience, is that India is a democracy where everyone has the right to express his or her views and it does not discriminate on the basis of religion.

"Pakistan had long been, and continues to be, a source of terrorism primarily against India but whose reverberations are also felt elsewhere," he said, stressing that both India and the US are threatened by the same source of terrorism.

Narrating the difficulty India has had trying to make other nations understand the threat of terrorism before the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, Advani said, "What was earlier dismissed as a tactical nuisance quickly came to be seen as a strategic threat seeking to undermine the very foundation on which the American society is built."

Advani stressed that democracies, including India and the US, have a big responsibility to fight terrorism as it wants to destroy all that the free world stood for.

"Both India and the United States have been prime targets of international terrorism although our countries have suffered barbaric deeds for a much longer time," Advani told the Council, stressing that more than 60,000 innocent Indians, including two prime ministers, have fallen victim to this scourge.

There are several reasons, Advani said, as to why the 'planners and perpetrators' of terrorism have made India and the United States their main targets.

The ideology of terrorism, he told the Council, abhors democracy.

"This is because terrorism is the anti-thesis of democracy. Whereas democracy offers choice, terrorism seeks to coerce," he said.

Another reason is that India and the US are open societies.

"The main concept of an open society is alien and antithetical to terrorists, although paradoxically terrorist groups exploit those very liberties and freedom."

Besides, he said, both India and the United States are plural and non-theocratic societies, which grant their citizens freedom of faith.

"In contrast, those behind international terrorism hate all those who do not belong to their faith or rather to their own narrow-minded and intolerant variant of their faith."

Stating that terrorists exploit the name of religion, Advani said, "They invoke non-existent religious sanctions to justify their inhuman acts, by claming that killing and suicide attacks are meant for the greater good of their community."

This, Advani said, is the ideology of 'jihadi terrorism'.

"This is what thrived in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan with the active support of Pakistan, and this is what has continued to target India even after the fall of the Taliban regime."

India, Advani told the Council, could have dealt with the terrorism if it was perpetuated by a few non-state terrorist organisations.

"The truth, however, is that support to such organisations has, since the early 1980s, become a matter of our neighbour's state policy."

"No civilized nation can justify support to terrorism, support to killing of innocent children, women and men in thousands on any grounds. But Pakistan has been doing precisely so," he said.

The deputy prime minister urged Islamabad to pledge to resolve all issues, including Kashmir, by negotiations and not to hold peace hostage to resolution of the differences with India.

"There has to be give and take in negotiations," he said.

US President George W Bush, while highly appreciative of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's peace initiative, has given an assurance that he would taken up the issue with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf who is scheduled to visit the US later in June, Advani told the gathering.

Advani in US: Complete Coverage

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