Wednesday, May 08, 2002
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By K.V. Prasad
"India will not accept it, as it did not after the 1998 (nuclear) tests to be told in prescriptive tone to do this or do that... not be spoken to from any position of assumed superiority or morality,'' the External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh, said in the Rajya Sabha while replying to a discussion on the working of his Ministry. India's response, he said, would be according to the channel diplomatic or public it came from.
Mr. Singh also rejected permitting any ``outside'' observers in Jammu and Kashmir where Assembly elections are due later this year. The conduct of polls there was within the domain of the Election Commission.
Reiterating that India was not willing to hold talks with Pakistan unless it gave up cross-border terrorism, Mr. Singh said New Delhi would not accept promotion of terrorism as an instrument of State policy or agree to it being employed as a "pre-negotiation tactic." It was for Pakistan to decide what kind of bilateral relations it wanted to have in the long-term.
During his 50-minute reply, Mr. Singh touched upon a range of issues relations with the United States, China, Afghanistan, Palestine and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Vajpayee Government's approach to the non-aligned movement, support for India as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and, in particular, the Congress leader, K. Natwar Singh's sharp criticism of the foreign policy.
Addressing the concerns of members, including Pranab Mukherjee (Congress) and P. G. Naryanan (AIADMK), he said the LTTE remained a banned organisation and New Delhi had reminded Colombo that its request for the extradition of the LTTE chief, V. Prabakaran, was pending. The problems of the fishermen in the Palk Straits would be sorted out, he said.
Referring to Afghanistan, Mr. Singh said since the installation of the Hamid Karzai interim government, New Delhi had been extending full cooperation. India's interest was in the welfare of the people of Afghanistan. On NAM, he said India was active behind the scenes without hurting the sentiments of the members while persuading the current Chairman, South Africa, on the urgent need to revitalise the movement. New issues such as terrorism and ecology were confronting foreign policy planning and "we cannot live in yesterday.'' Another challenge was the growth of NATO, with Russia virtually becoming its member. New Delhi had clarified its position on Palestine on several occasions. As for Sino-Indian relations, they were progressing well with both countries having exchanged maps on the Line of Actual Control in the mid-sector. The western sector would come next.
Earlier, initiating the discussion, Natwar Singh criticised the Government's foreign policy and asked whether it had one towards Pakistan. The Government had given up the Nehruvian policy and had also turned away from NAM.
Natwar Singh said the foreign missions could not be faulted for their comments on Gujarat. Islamic nations were watching the developments in Gujarat and wanted the Centre to state what it would do if 4 million Indians employed in the Gulf countries were asked to pack up and leave as a reaction to Gujarat. And whether the Government had a substitute for NAM and what were the contents of discussion with the U.S. on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Pakistan policy?
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