June 18, 2021
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BBC Hardtalk

'The West Has Clearly Adopted Double Standards'

Text of Tim Sebastian's Nov 25 BBC HARDtalk interview with the External Affairs Minister who maintains that nobody is pressuring India to talk to Pakistan despite public statements.

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'The West Has Clearly Adopted Double Standards'
'The West Has Clearly Adopted Double Standards'
Yashwant Sinha, a very warm welcome to the programme. On 31st October you were in London and you said that the international community has lost its moral right to advice India. Why did you take this aggressive posture against the West?

I don't think it was an aggressive posture. I repeat what I said, that the international community has lost its moral right to advise India on the issue of terrorism vis a vis Pakistan.


For the very simple reason that it is our feeling that the international community is making a distinction between the good terrorist who operates in India, and especially in Jammu and Kashmir and the bad terrorist who operates elsewhere.

But you know that is not the case.

I know that is the case.

You know that is not the case. In September you went to Washington, where you had talks with Colin Powell.  You said you were absolutely satisfied with the discussions you had there. He presumably didn't make that distinction

No. In the talks I had with Colin Powell, Pakistan only came up briefly, tangentially.  We didn't spend our time discussing Pakistan. When both of us came out - and there is what the Americans call the Stakeout outside the State Department - there Colin Powell made a statement and I said with reference to that statement that I was satisfied because he clearly held Pakistan responsible for cross border terrorism vis a vis India.

He said he will continue to press the Pakistani Govt. to do everything possible to stop the cross border infiltration and remind them of the commitment they had made not only to the US but to the international community.  What's wrong with that?

That's what Colin Powell says...

What's wrong with that? Why did you change your tune between that meeting and coming to London and telling everyone in the West to get lost?

Let me explain, this was as you said on the 10th of September, I made this statement in London at the end of October, clearly a month and 20 days later, in the meanwhile the Jammu & Kashmir elections had been held. We have been assured by the international community repeatedly that they will put pressure on Pakistan.

Which they did

Which they did to no effect

Is it their fault? They did their best, didn't they?

Putting pressure and talking sweetly to the terrorist, if that is good enough. It's not good enough for us.

Who said they talked sweetly?

This is what it means. I'm convinced that if the international community wants Pakistan will give up its acts of terrorism against India in no time, there is obviously some disconnect between what they tell us and what they tell Pakistan.

There is some disconnect between what you want, what you say what you want and what you are actually doing because on the one hand you want the international community to take notice of the problem as far as Pakistan is concerned but the international community isn't allowed to say anything about India's role in this.You are not talking to Pakistan, you told the West to get lost...

Is the West talking to Osama Bin Laden?

If they could find him certainly..

They could have found him last year.

How do you know that? What basis have you got for saying that?

This is the point I am making is that terrorism that Pakistan is unleashing against India is as bad as the terrorism which the Taliban and Al Qaeda was unleashing in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and if they are not to be talked to, they have to be dealt with in another manner. We expect the international community to have the same standards in dealing with the terrorist who are coming from across the boundary.

You expect the international community to deal with Pakistan but you won't accept any advice from the international community yourself. You have double standards over this.

How ?

How do you expect the international community to remain indifferent when two regional powers, India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and a million troops at their borders with the serious conflicts that goes on. And you are not keen to talk to the Pakistanis?

So what does it mean? If one country which has got nuclear weapons and threatens another country, the international community will tell the threatened country to start submitting, start surrendering? Is that what you are suggesting?

I am suggesting that one of the reasons that you have nuclear weapons is to get the world to take notice of you. Well, the world has taken notice of you. And they want a say in how this conflict is solved.

No sir, that is absolutely, total misunderstanding of our intentions and our acts.


I don't think you are right in saying that we acquired nuclear capability in order for the world to take notice of us. The world is taking notice of us even before, we have done what we did in the nuclear field in our best strategic interest. Every country has a right to think about its best strategic interest.

Foreign Minister, why is it in your interest to slam the door on everybody's face? You are not talking to Pakistan, you don't want to talk to United Nations about this crisis and you have told the West that it has lost its right to advise India. You are slamming the door in everybody's face.

No, I'm not slamming the door, sir, in anybody's face .I am merely saying that the west or the international community has clearly adopted double standards, and that there is a time for them to realise this. My statement was made in order to drive home this point, and the very fact that you have taken note of this statement means that it has gone home.  

It's not a consistent line coming out of the government. Your chief of staff says that infiltration is down 54 %, Which is a pretty precise figure. You say the Pakistanis have done nothing to stop the infiltration.

What is the assurance that Musharaaf gave to the international community, the assurance that he gave was that he will put a permanent stop to infiltration? This was the first week of June and now if it has gone down by 50% or 60% or 54% - do you think that's good enough? If 100 people are getting killed in a day, now you will say you should  be satisfied because now only 50 people are getting killed?

Either it's getting better or it isn't.

No it is not a question of better and worse.

It is, isn't it..

No. It's a question of stopping terrorism. If one of the two towers in New York hadn't gone down, would you have said that we should be happy because only one has gone down?

Western governments are puzzled that you've not taken into account the amount of the cut back in infiltration and terrorist activities which has come after concerted international pressure.

Mr. Sebastian, I don't think you are right, we are in touch with western governments, we know what their view is.

They are pressing you to talk to Pakistan.

No, nobody is pressing us to talk to Pakistan, they might be making their statements in public but nobody is pressurising (sic). In any case India is not going to give into any pressures. We will talk to Pakistan, we have never said that we will not talk to Pakistan but there must be a conducive atmosphere.

A 54% cut in terrorism is not a conducive atmosphere?

You don't talk to a fellow who has held a gun to the temple and say he has removed it by six inches and now I will start talking.

What use is it, not talking?

The basic fundamental mistake that you are making is in thinking that if infiltration and the cross border terrorism is gone down by 50% that's good enough, it's not good enough. It has to go down 100%. Terrorism has to stop.

Earlier you were saying the west has lost its moral right, now you are saying it has gone down 54%, something has been done, something that the west has..

Something has been achieved because of the steps that India took.

How can you say that? How do you know it wasn't due to pressure from the United States?

Because the pressure did not work. In the run up to the elections in Jammu and Kashmir, 800 people had been done to death. Because we know that in August and in September the infiltration levels had reached very high proportion almost at par with last year.

Minister, what do you expect the international community to do that they have not done already? You know that they put pressure. You know that Bush has spoken to Musharraf. What else do you expect the west to do?

I expect the west and anyone else who is interested in this to put enough pressure on Pakistan so that Pakistan is able to put a complete and permanent stop to infiltration from across the line of control and not permit its territory to be used, not have the whole elaborate infrastructure of terrorism in its country to promote cross border terrorism.

What kind of pressure?

All kinds of pressure

What kinds of pressure? Give me an example..

Whether economic, all kind of pressure can be put.

You think the west will endanger Musharraf's position?

I don't know, you tell me..

Clearly not, do you want to endanger his position.

No, I don't. I would not.

Would you prefer some of the religious parties ...

Why should you think that the alternative to Musharraf is the religious parties?

They have done pretty well there, haven't they?

They have done pretty well there because of exactly the way the west had behaved with Pakistan.

But you'd rather have a Pakistani leader who listens sometime to the west than a religious leader who doesn't listen to the west at all?

No, I don't buy this theory at all, sir. My point is that the alternative to Musharraf in Pakistan is democracy in Pakistan. That is my position and the west is not looking at democracy at all. They are looking at a dictator - a military dictator at that -  and the religious parties as if there is nothing in between. Why can't we have a democratic system in Pakistan?

Why do you think that pressure from west will be anymore successful in persuading Pakistan to do what the west wants? It hasn't been successful in getting you to do what the west wants.

Because we are not the aggressors, we have not unleashed terror against Pakistan or any other country. We are the victims.

You have appalling human right records in Jammu and Kashmir

That's not our view.

It's the view of the US State department.

It might be the view of anybody; it is not Government of India's view.

So you deny all the accusations?

No, we are denying the allegations. The only point I'm making is that we have an elaborate setup to monitor human rights and we take action against anyone who is guilty of it. We have an independent and free judiciary, we have an independent and free media and they make Indian society as open as any other society in the world. We have a human rights commission, which looks into these cases.

And why are the reports year after year coming out of the US State Department still citing serious abuses, significant human right abuses particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, carried out by the security forces?

Because the security forces are not garlanding the fidayeen (suicide squads) who are attacking them in order to kill them.

No, Minister. They are accused of extra judicial killings, faked encounter killings, deaths of  suspect in police custody, and excessive use of force.  Is that something to be  proud of?

I'll just take the last point, excessive use of force, who is going to...will they sit in judgment in Washington and decide that in a particular action, excessive use of force was done? Or will it be judged by the people on the spot? It has to be judged by the people on the spot, who are facing those terrorists, who are there to kill them.

Arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detentions. Is this justified?

No it's not .I like to tell you that in each case we have machinery to go into them. The US or anybody else should take a note of that, and sitting there so far away,  we will not trust that they are always right on facts.

The US says that your machinery does not work. It says the problems are acute in Jammu and Kashmir where the judicial tolerance of the government's heavy-handed tactics, the refusal of security forces to obey court orders and terrorist threats have disrupted the judicial court orders.

The security forces have never disobeyed court orders, nobody in India can disobey court orders not even a Chief Minister.

Did you point that out to Colin Powell when you met him? This comes from his department.

If he had raised this with me I would have replied to him. I don't have to raise all the state department reports with Colin Powell or anybody else when I meet them. If issues are raised with me I will reply to the issues.

So you are saying it's not true.

I am saying that the report of the situation has to be studied on the ground. And that we don't have to depend on the US State Department or any other foreign office or  human rights organization. We have human right machinery of our own and there are any number of instances where the government has acted on the advice of the human rights commission, the judiciary has looked into these things.So just as we will  not like to judge any other country in this matter without going into all the facts, we would not like to be judged by any other  country without going into all the facts.

So you reject all the accusations that are contained..

I don't agree with that.

Why would the US make it up?

I don't know what their sources of information are. Have they sent a team here to make inquiries into these cases? Have they investigated?  How do we know that these are not based on reports, which are not dependable?

But the effect of these reports, year after year, undermines you in the eyes of those governments who believe them. It seriously undermines your attempt to claim the moral high ground in Jammu and Kashmir. It seriously undermines it in the outside world.

It is not a question of us claiming moral high ground either in Jammu and Kashmir or anywhere else. The point is we are engaged in a deadly fight against  terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. Now the whole world is realizing the menace of terrorism. And I think all  their concerns with human rights, with personal liberty and everything else, is undergoing a change, quite clearly. It is very easy to sit in judgement at a far away and safe place and pronounce  judgement on what is happening on the ground in the face of  terrorist violence..

According to the Hindu newspaper, ensuring  security in Jammu and Kashmir is not just about preventing unlawful activities of militants, its about ensuring the climate of economic and social opportunities, and not least good governance, Minister. That cannot just be laid at Pakistan's door, can it?

Nobody's laying the blame at Pakistan's door. I never said that. I am saying the best assurance of good governance is democracy.

So at least you have stopped rigging the elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

We have had a free, fair and violent election in Jammu and Kashmir.

At last, it was free and fair.

At last. But it did happen. There had been free and fair elections in the past also.

It was a corrupt and inefficient government, Minister, wasn't it?

I don't think I'll  agree with you there. Just because a party losses power doesn't mean it was corrupt and inefficient. We have done a lot for the development of Jammu and Kashmir, we will continue to do that. People are entitled to a better quality of life and the government of India has always done its best. We will always do our best.

On the one hand you are hailing the results of a new free and fair elections and on the other hand the BJP is snipping the new Chief Minister,  Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, complaining about his activities. He has only been in office a month. Are you seeking to help him or hinder him?  

I can't answer for  BJP but as far as the Government of India is concerned, they have assured Mr. Sayeed of all help from the government. BJP is a political party and it has its own views and it has a right to those views.

And it's undermining his authority.

It's not undermining any authority.

His programme is disturbing and distressing.

Democracy is not undermining authority, if that theory is accepted then all criticism will have to be muzzled.

Then you've accepted that this government is the new opportunity for Kashmir?

I am only saying that it is a democratically elected government and it is doing certain things. Political parties and the BJP have a right to comment on what he is doing and criticise if they don't agree.

But he is only been there a month.

Yes, so during that month he has taken some actions and those actions are either being considered right or considered wrong.

So do you disassociate then yourself from the criticism of the BJP?

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