Transcript of the press-conference by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign
Minister of Canada Mr. John
and External Affairs Minister Mr. Jaswant Singh, on January 21, 2002 - New Delhi
Jaswant Singh: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, it is fine... it’s a pleasure and honour to welcome the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada. I think this is a visit that had been planned long back. ... during our United Nations General Assembly meeting we had confirmed dates of the visit. This is an important bilateral event because it marks a development in India-Canada relations that we had been working towards post May 98 and to which development Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Manley personally and particularly committed. It’s for me a very great pleasure. This is a bilateral visit and we have discussed bilateral issues, we have talked about enhancing trade, continuance of political discussions and we have also talked about the visit of the Trade Minister from Canada in the coming months ahead and of course we have briefly covered regional and international events too. Before I invite him to share his thoughts, once its my great pleasure to welcome him here and to us in the Ministry of External Affairs and to me personally its rewarding because it marks a new phase in India-Canada relations and I have no doubt, with this phase we will see further improvement in political and enhancement in trade and economic issues too.
John Manley: Thank you very much Minister Singh. For me this is very important visit as well, important because the normalization of the relations between Canada and India relations was one of the objectives that I set out for Canada soon after I was appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in October 2000. We proceeded early in 2001 to announce, that our relations would be normalized, a number of ministerial and senior official visits took place in the fall and it was always anticipated that at about this time I would come as Foreign Minister. There are always some surprises in politics and I am happy to be here as the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada for a visit not just to Delhi but to carry on for about 6 days in India. I have to visit other regions of the country and to really make an important statement of the fact that Canada-India relations which have a long history to them are being renewed and restored to a normal level. It’s a right opportunity to sit and chat with you once again after a number of conversations by telephone in addition to our previous meeting in New York. But there is no substitute for meeting in person on such occasions and I hope we continue our meeting and make some important progress on issues that we want to discuss.
Jaswant Singh: Thank you. Ladies and Gentlemen. Two questions each to him and to me and I don’t want to delay his lunch too long. He has other assignments for the day. He has to be in Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Jaswant Singh: Yes, I can elaborate, we discussed the situation in Afghanistan, and Deputy Prime Minister also was very kind to share with me about his visit to Islamabad.
Question: Nilesh Mishra ( AP): Pakistan has said that it is sending a list of its own to match India’s list. Has that happened?
Jaswant Singh: No. It has not. But I must, I would be very happy. I have learnt of this through the press. So I haven’t learnt of this through the official channels of the Pakistan Foreign Office. But whatever list to be provided by the Government of Pakistan of any Pakistani criminals, any Pakistani criminal who are illegally in India, of course there is no question of India providing any legal shelter to criminals. But if any list were to come I can assure you the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs of India, we will work double time to send them back to Pakistan.
Question: I would like to know in your opinion who has to compromise in the dispute between India and Pakistan in order there should be some progress?
John Manley: It would be a very unusual situation in which issues were very difficult to resolve and compromise was not required on both sides. But as Mr. Singh said I had an opportunity to give him a briefing about my visit to Islamabad, some of the discussions that we had there, it was an opportunity for me in Islamabad to make clear Canada’s position on the issue of terrorism which is that you cannot draw distinctions among terrorists based on what you believe to be the rightness of the cause which they prefer to support Persons who use violence, to try to achieve political objectives particularly when it is directed against civilian population this is terrorism and it is to be condemned wherever it occurs by civilized countries, whatever the situation may be and so we certainly as Canada we have been urging that any of the groups that are linked to terrorist activities including the attack on the December 13, 2001 be identified and brought to justice wherever they may be.
John Manley: I can’t comment on persons on the list because the issues that are raised about individuals on the list, I don’t know what police evidence is and I don’t know what the case is. But there is no question that people, who have evidence, points to it, having been responsible for example for the attack on the Parliament on December 13, 2001 should be brought to justice and the offence occurred here and Indian justice ought to apply to it. As, we have said repeatedly since September 11 that the United States has the right to bring the justice to the people who attacked the World Trade Centre.
John Manley: I will make a few comments. Everyday that the conflict does not escalate is a step forward and I think that we should acknowledge the fact that days and days have gone by without further incident, that’s a positive development. It would be our hope that some of the initiatives that have been taken can lead to confidence building steps on both sides that can further improve the sense of stability in the situation if, let me say that, President Musharraf did not to me indicate that in no circumstances would they provide, would they turnover of the people whose names are not on the list for example he had questions about the evidence, he had questions about the nationality, but there was not a flat refusal. So there is a door that is open. One would hope that some actions can happen both ways that would see a gradual decline in the tension and improvement in the political climate, perhaps as we see some confidence building measures occur.
Jaswant Singh: We have, as you know India has and I have done so on behalf of our government. We have welcomed some of the steps that had been announced by President Musharraf, simultaneously we have said that we would like to see these steps translated into actions on the ground, particularly when it comes to curbing cross border terrorism and to abandoning state-sponsored terrorism cross-border and we also, and this has been mentioned a number of times, pending is the this list of some of the post heinous criminals, I really don’t see what advantages accrue and I have shared this with Pakistan and what advantage accrues to Pakistan by continue to sit with these 20 and permitting them to stay in Pakistan. They are criminals, 15 of them are red alert Interpol notice holders. There is an international obligation of 15, of course there is no extradition treaty, but there is a SAARC agreement on extradition of criminals. Plus between India and Pakistan there is a bilateral agreement of 1989 if I am not mistaken, wherein both of us had obliged, the two organizations that deal with investigation on criminals are obliged to without any difficulty to the other government or the country that has the criminals, this is the 1989 agreement and I don’t see why we should indulge in any legal quibbling over criminals and that is why if Pakistan thinks that there are any Pakistani criminals in India, without citing any of these treaty incidence, I will immediately return them to Pakistan.
I don’t want to
speak in first person in singular, but I am a bit loathe to share, I was the
Defence Minister of this country for 8 months. We had an incident where a
Pakistan regular army soldier crossed, this had happened after having committed
a crime, into India. This matter was brought to my notice. We had a request then
from Pakistan this soldier is a criminal, he has committed a crime against his
superior officer, we want him back. I knew that as a Defence Minister, if I
sent him back, it’s like a warrant of death for that soldier. But I did not wait
for any extradition treaty or going through procedures. Here is a criminal and
the criminal has to be returned. He was returned. We do expect that when it
comes to criminal activities, Pakistan must take this kind of approach to the
Thank you very much.