Rights can take back seat to anti-terror fight: Vajpayee
NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Monday said it was acceptable to curb human rights in the fight against terrorism and fired a broadside at neighbouring Pakistan for supporting Kashmir’s Muslim separatists.
Vajpayee’s comments came as controversy raged over claims that police killed two unarmed men in New Delhi’s trendiest shopping mall earlier this month and then said they were armed Islamic militants.
“All forms of terrorism is dangerous, but the one that is inspired by religious extremism is lethal” he said at the opening of an international forum of national and private human rights agencies.
“We have sometimes to take tough decisions — even infringing some of our freedoms and abridging some of our human rights temporarily — to firmly counter terrorism, so that our future generations can live in peace,” Vajpayee told delegates from nine Asia-Pacific nations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Indian press reports have quoted an eyewitness who said the pair gunned down in a basement at the Delhi mall were unarmed when they were shot, casting a shadow on what police had billed as a successful counter-terrorism operation. Vajpayee, without naming Pakistan, said he did not accept the interpretation of the ongoing Kashmir insurgency as a freedom struggle.
“Perhaps no country in the world has suffered the depredations of international terrorism as much as India has, and for so long a time as we have.”
“In the past two decades, nearly 60,000 people have been killed in acts of terrorism in Punjab, Kashmir and elsewhere in our country. It baffles us when the killing of innocent men, women and children is justified in some quarters as ‘struggle’,” the Indian prime minister said. Some 25,000 people lost their lives between 1983 and 1992 in a Sikh homeland campaign in Punjab. The prime minister called on the international community to join ranks to fight the scourge of terrorism. He said governments must set aside their individual agenda and turn their pledges into action.
“It is incumbent on all nations in our region and around the world to join hands to fight the menace of international terrorism.”
“Respect for all faiths and protection of pluralism should be recognised as an obligation and this obligation cannot be fulfilled merely by proclamations, declarations and acceptance of UN resolutions.”
“Our actions at the national level, and our cooperation at the regional and global levels, must match the threat posed by international terrorism and religious extremism,” he added. —AFP
US, India to hold talks on transfer of high technology
NEW DELHI: US undersecretary of commerce for exports Kenneth Juster will hold talks here with Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha and others on the transfer of sophisticated technology to India, officials said on Monday
“He is here for a high technology dialogue. It is talks on transfer of high technology between India and US,” US embassy spokesman Gordon K. Duguid told AFP. He did not elaborate on the kind of technology, which will figure in the discussions with top Indian officials spread out over two days from Tuesday.
Juster is due to hold talks with Sinha, National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra and his counterparts in India’s commerce and industry ministry. The United States has long prohibited the export to India of any sensitive high technology that could have military applications.
Indian hopes for such technology were further set back when India carried out shock nuclear tests in 1998, prompting US sanctions. But relations between the two largest democracies warmed following then president Bill Clinton’s visit to India in 2000. All remaining sanctions were lifted last year after New Delhi joined the US-led coalition against terrorism following the September 11 attacks. India and the United States had strained relations during the Cold War, when officially non-aligned New Delhi tilted towards the Soviet Union. —AFP