May 07, 2021
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Unedited Speech

'You Might Have Created Difficulties For Yourself'

The Congress's shadow MEA joined issue with the MEA's media statement on the right to pre-emptive strikes in the Rajya Sabha on April 9.

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'You Might Have Created Difficulties For Yourself'

Mr. Chairman, Sir, I rise on behalf of my party to support the Resolution that you have just read out.  Now, Sir, some people may find some shortcomings with this Resolution, but a unanimous Resolution of both Houses of Parliament has very great importance and significance.  It reflects not only the views of the two Houses of the great Parliament of India, but we here, as Members of these two Houses, reflect the passions, the feelings and the emotions of the one billion people of India. Therefore, it is in the fitness of things that on such a grave issue Parliament was able to come out with a Resolution, which reflects the sentiments of other people of India. 

Sir, I have respect for the shrines of the minds of the people and I would like to here mention that the hon. Prime Minister and his two ministerial colleagues who are here, have played a seminal role in producing a draft, which was acceptable to all of us.  Now, we live in an era where events overtake ideas -- diplomacy overtakes foreign policy.  Hence, foreign policy must continuously be explained; must reflect national consensus.  We have to have a clear, creative and flexible but not a pliant foreign policy. 

Parliament and the country must be told why a particular course has been adopted and this Resolution reflects why this particular course has been adopted.  Now we all want the closest possible relations with the United States, but we also expect that, as our friends, the United States should look for partnership of nations and not a hegemonistic relationship. 

What is happening in Iraq is even today all of us had been witnessing the heart-rending scenes of massive bombardment by the latest technology that the American nation can produce.  What is the objective of this continuous bombarding of Iraq?  Who is suffering?  It is the innocent people of Iraq, the children, the women, the old men and innocent civilians who are not involved in any military activity whatsoever.  The aim, we are told again for the second time, of the bombardment is to assassinate the President of Iraq and his family.  What does one say to this kind of a thing when the greatest power in history, the most powerful country, the richest country and technologically the most advanced country, which should be an example of responsibility and restraint, has undertaken this mass slaughter of innocent human beings? 

This is contrary to the United Nations Charter.  This is contrary to all the values all human beings stand for.  Now the reason for the war was that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.  That was the principal reason given apart from the assassination of the Head of the State of Iraq.  Now Mr. Saddam Hussein's fate is not known.  But it is now quite clear that weapons of mass destruction have not been discovered.  So, what is the legitimacy of this war?

If weapons of mass destruction had been discovered, then I would have been speaking in a different language. But the fact of the matter is, with all the resources that they have to find out if there are any weapons of mass destruction, the attacking forces have not been able to find out any weapons of mass destruction. So, the legitimacy of the war has been destroyed.

We have been saying from the very beginning that it was contrary to the U.N. Charter. I have got a copy of the U. N. Charter with me. I do not want to read out portions from it. But, it is quite clear that articles 1 to 39, 41 and 51 have been totally ignored, and the United States is its Founder Member, and so are we. We were Member of the League of Nations even as a part of the British Empire, and we became a Founder-Member. Other countries had to apply for its membership. We did not apply. So, being a Founder-Member, we have a voice and a role, and that is why, I attach the highest importance to the Resolution that has been adopted, and will be adopted by this House.

Now, we have heard a great deal about a Coalition. I do not know whether the hon. Members are aware of the fact who constitute this Coalition. Apart from the important countries, which are Australia, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States, the others are Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Georgia, Honduras, Icelands, Latvia, Luthania, Macedonia, Marshall Islands. Does anybody know where the Marshall Islands are? Micronesia, Nicaragua, Palau. Palau is apparently a country. Then, Panama, Portugal, Rwanda, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Tonga. We have very good relations with Tonga. It is in the Coalition. Then Ukraine, Uganda, Uzbekistan. This is the great Coalition, which we are supposed to applaud.

Now, Sir, first of all, our hearts go out to the valiant and brave people of Iraq, and I think the entire House is expressing its profound grief and anguish as this Resolution mentions. Now, I would like to mention one or two things, which are of grave concern, and I am sure, the distinguished External Affairs Minister will throw some light on this. I might also mention that America's close neighbours, Canada and Mexico, have not joined the Coalition. Canada is next door to America, so is Mexico. They have not joined this Coalition.

The distinguished External Affairs Minister had made a statement about pre-emptive strike. He has said that logic may be clear that if the United States could take pre-emptive action against Iraq, India would be justified in taking pre-emptive action, and have a pre-emptive strike against Pakistan. Now, I have profound respect and affection for him. I do not know whether you had thought this through or not. But, I think, you might have created difficulties for yourself, because if you take your argument to the logic, then you are justifying the Americans' intervention. I do not think this was your intention because if you say that we can take a similar action, that means, you are justifying the Americans' attack. That is not your intention. That is not the intention of this Resolution. But, this is what my thick brain can understand [meri moTii buddhii ko samajh aataa hai] Maybe, you might have not thought this through, and I would be very grateful and the House would appreciate if you could enlighten us on this as to the reasons why you have made this statement.        

You are a very cautious and careful person and that is to be welcomed.  Now, one other thing that all of us are deeply concerned about is the observations of the distinguished Secretary of State of United States, Mr. Collin Powell.  He said that after the tragic conclusion of this horrible war in Iraq, the United States would turn its attention to India and Pakistan with regard to Jammu and Kashmir. The exact words are available with you in the Ministry of External Affairs and are also available to some of us.

On the 12th of March, when we discussed this issue in this very House, I mentioned that "who next, when next" and knowing that the United States has responded promptly to your suggestion of India having the right to have pre-emptive strike.  They have rejected your point of view and their view was that there was an overwhelming difference between the situation in Iraq and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.  Therefore, India is not entitled to take pre-emptive strike. 

I mean the United States is not in a position to make policy decisions for India and that is for you to deal with this particular matter with the United States in the White House, in the State Department.  But what we are concerned with, and, I am sure, you are also concerned with here is that suppose the President of the United States were to write to the Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan to say that both the countries should sit down and find a solution for, what they call 'dispute' on Jammu & Kashmir.  We do not consider it a dispute.  The whole of Jammu & Kashmir is a part of India.  I would like to know the views of the Government, because this is not a figment of my imagination. 

If you read the security document issued by some think tanks in the United States in the last year, whatever is being done in Iraq and other countries is only a prelude to what they intend to do; and Mr. Rumsfeld has made it quite clear that Iraq is being taken care of and if we find evidence that Syria has been helping Iraq, Syria will also have to face the consequences and the axis of evil also includes Iran and North Korea. 

Now, I do not want to take much time of the House discussing the merits of what the American policy is in Iraq and what its policy is in North Korea for obvious reasons, because it is not as simple as walking into Iraq, to take on North Korea with China next door and South Korea, not even at two minutes flight.  But I think the country would like to know and the House would like to be assured that in such an eventuality, what would be your reaction? The American mood is -- if I may use a religious term -- of this 'evangelical fervour' of President Bush who has invoked God to his side, now we all believe in God, but it is for the first time probably in 80-90 years that this 'evangelical' zeal to shape the world in the manner they want the world to be, to say the least, is a matter of deep concern and must alarm all of us. Especially, in the last few years our relations with United States of America have improved. The process was started in the time of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and carried forward by Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, Mr. Narsimha Rao, Dr. Manmohan Singh and now Prime Minister Vajpayee and his colleagues.

Therefore, I think, since we are friends--I know that we are discussing matters with the United States which we have been discussing with them during the last 50 years--there is a willingness, on both sides, to speak to each other frankly and to share our anxieties and concerns with our American friends.  We are entitled to do so because we consider ourselves as their friends.  So, I think the House would be interested to know whether you applied your mind to this particular possibility, which, as I said, is not a figment of my imagination. 

You would, probably, be facing this situation in a few weeks or a few months ahead.  Now, I have no doubt that no Government of India will accept this kind of a situation or diktat or intention, howsoever well meaning it is.   Why I am saying this is, we were told for a number of months by your predecessor that there had been a paradigm change in Indo-US relations. Now, if there has been a paradigm change, why are the United States still persisting in their view that they consider Pakistan as their stalwart ally?  

President Musharraf made a speech on 12th January last year where he gave an undertaking to the whole world that he would not allow the soil of Pakistan to be used for exporting terrorism anywhere in the world including part of India, that is, Jammu and Kashmir.  But he has not fulfilled the promises that he made and the United States say that it has not been able to persuade President Musharraf to stop cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.  Now, the same United States was able to persuade President Musharraf in October, 2001,  on their invading Afghanistan, President Musharraf made a 360 degree turn and changed Pakistan's fundamental policy regarding Talibans.  

If the Americans could persuade the Pakistan Government and the Pakistan President to make such a fundamental change in Pakistan's policy with regard to Afghanistan and Taliban, why are we not able to persuade President Musharraf that he must, in the larger interest of peace and tranquillity in the Indian sub-continent, stop cross-border terrorism?   We would be very grateful to you if you could take the House into confidence and tell us whether these matters have been taken up with them and whether you were satisfied with the response that you had.

While concluding, I would like to mention one more thing, that is, the Prime Minister was good enough to tell us, both here and in the all-party meeting, that he had been in touch with the five Permanent Members of the Security Council.  I think it was before the Iraq war started.  The House will be interested to know, I am sure, whether the Prime Minister had any conversations, in the last few days, with Shri Kofi Annan, President Jacques Chirac, President Vladimir Putin, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Shri Hu Jintao of China, Shri Mohammad Mahathir and other non-aligned leaders because the newspaper reports say that Shri Kofi Annan, President Chirac, Chancellor Schroeder and President Putin will be meeting in St. Petersburg some time this week or early next week to take up the issue of post-war Iraq.

Now, the Resolution has very rightly mentioned that the Government of India has given Rs.100 crores in cash and 50,000 metric tons of wheat.  I don't know what is the amount in terms of rupees.  But I think it is a substantial amount and more is needed.

Obviously, there is a difference of opinion.  Yesterday, the President of America and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom met in Belfast in the Northern Ireland where the United States said--it was a great relief to all of us who saw it--that the United Nations will play a pivotal role in post-war Iraq developments.    But we also know that when it comes to reconstruction process, certain companies have already been allocated their share.

That is not going to solve the problems of Iraq because you know as Finance Minister that Iraq has debt of nearly $ 380 billion.  Add to it $ 100 billion for reconstruction, add to it the cost for telecommunication, road construction.  We are not talking in terms of figures.  Seven to Eight hundred billion dollars, where is it going to come from or is it all going to be given to a particular country's company?.

I think, it is important that in this exercise, India should be in touch with the five permanent members of the Security Council, with the Secretary General of the United Nations and with the senior leaders of Non-Aligned Movement so that the views of a large part of the world are conveyed at the highest level.  It is not necessary for us to be hard on words, but we have to be hard on facts.  We want to know that if the new international order is to be formulated by the United States, without consultation with anybody else, then, we are living in a world, which is much worse than the world of 19th century, or, the earlier part of the 20th century.  This should be done in the name of democracy and of a value system, which is spelt out in inspiring and soaring language in the American declaration of independence.

I think, it will be right to say that the spirit and the letter of the American Constitution are being violated and this is not being said by me, or, anybody else, but by the senior Members of the American Congress.  So, once again, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak on this very very important decision that the Parliament has taken to have a unanimous resolution on the illegal and unjustified war on Iraq.

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