External Affairs Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee's intervention during discussion in Rajya Sabha on the recent terror attack in Mumbai
December 11, 2008
MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. Minister for External Affairs wishes to intervene in the discussion.
THE MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS (Mr. PRANAB MUKHERJEE): Mr. Chairman, Sir, while making the statement in the morning to the House, hon. Home Minister indicated that I would intervene in the debate from certain Foreign and External Affairs Ministry angle. Sir, had it been merely a question of violent action by some individuals or some groups on a property or on individuals, there would have been no necessity for my participation in the debate or in the discussion. That was perfectly within the domain of the Home Ministry.
But, there are certain external angles which are to be looked into and which are really a matter of concern. The point which we shall have to keep in mind is, perhaps, this is for the first time that in a terrorist attack a large number of foreigners belonging to 13 countries were the target. Sir, 26 foreigners lost their lives, about 22 injured and all of them belong to 13 different countries. I deeply mourn the loss of their lives. And, of course, the loss of life of every individual who became the victim of this senseless violence is a matter of deep concern. The hon. Home Minister has, in his elaborate statement, pointed out and recognized that there were certain omissions and certain gaps. He was candid enough to admit it. And there is no hesitation to admit it. On his first visit to Mumbai after assuming the office, he tendered his apology and rightly so.
Sir, all the evidence available, unfortunately, point that the epicentre of this terrorist activity is in our neighbouring country. I do not blame the Government of Pakistan or the people of Pakistan. But, at the same time, I cannot ignore the fact that the elements who perpetrated this attack and even the controller of this entire operation were located in Pakistan. That is the evidence which is available, and this has been shared not only by a couple of countries, but a large number of countries shared this perception.
Sir, Mr. Yechury, while speaking, mentioned about mobilisation of international opinion. One feature which I have noticed after this attack is the overwhelming support, sympathy and expression of solidarity that we have received from the international community. Sir, more than 16 Heads of the States and Governments spoke to the hon. Prime Minister. Almost every Head of the State and Government sent message. A very large number of Foreign Ministers, almost everyday, since 27th November, have talked to me over telephone expressing their solidarity with us, extending their support, if we need, in this hour of difficulty. So, there is no lack of mobilisation of international support, because the message which we have conveyed and we have conveyed very clearly in my conversations as well as in the conversations with the Prime Minister is that this is not an India-Pakistan issue, this is a part of global terrorism. The terrorist activities are spreading, cutting across the territorial borders. Terrorists are no respecters of any geographical territory; it is an international phenomenon. Therefore, it has to be looked into from that perspective. And, the international community will have to fight against this terror.
When I talk of the international opinion, it includes the international opinion coming from our neighbourhood also. The Foreign Ministers, the Heads of States, the Heads of Governments of every country, which you have referred to, have talked to us. I myself had discussions with the President of Sri Lanka, with the Foreign Minister of Nepal, with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan also. Therefore, please have some patience. And, I do not subscribe to the view that all our neighbouring countries are not friends of India. Each and every one of them is a close friend of India. If somebody believes that all of them are subscribing to terrorism, he may have that belief but I do not subscribe to the belief that every neighbouring country is indulging in terrorist activities against India. It is not that. Therefore, we shall have to keep in mind that when we are expressing our views on the floor of this House, we shall have to be a little careful. Mr. Chairman, Sir, this debate is being watched by the entire international community, including our neighbours, to see how, after this incident, the Members of Parliament, representing all cross-sections, are responding to a situation that is considered an attack on India's sovereignty. So, everybody is watching how India is going to respond to it; how the leaderships of the political establishments, represented in both the Houses, are going to react to it. Keeping that in view, I would most respectfully, as one of your ex-colleagues and -- if I claim, I may not be wrong -- perhaps, as the longest serving Member of this House, like to submit that we shall have to keep that in the back of our mind while making our observations.
'Yes', we may have different views and different perceptions. On more than one occasion and more often than not, they will manifest themselves. After all, what is democracy? Democracy is the co-existence of dissensions. Without dissensions, there cannot be proper democracy. There will be divergence. There will be dissensions. But, there will be also occasions when the two Houses, political parties and political establishments will stand united and talk collectively. This is a menace on which we shall have to fight collectively. 'Yes', we can find fault. There is no harm in discussing and analysing it. But at the end of it, this menace has to be fought. There is no denying this fact. I was talking of the international dimension of the problem. It required detailed planning. I was not aware and I don't know how many hon. colleagues sitting here were aware that Nariman House; a particular place known as Nariman House was the hub of Jewish activities. Somebody coming from outside had detailed information. Why was it fixed as a target?
It is not that just some terrorists are coming and throwing grenades or suicide bombers are coming and just activating the explosives, killing their targets. The entire nature, as the hon. Home Minister has elaborately explained in his statement, was totally different. Its enormity, its ferocity, its dimension, the strength of its operations speaks of how much time, how much energy, how much training, how much planning was necessary for this operation. The point which I am trying to drive at is, the needle of suspicion points to Pakistan. Therefore, I sent my demarche to the Pakistani authorities. I spoke to the Foreign Minister. He was very much in India. He was my honoured guest. I had invited him to discuss how to improve Indo-Pak relationship, not only at the Governmental level but at people-to-people level. On 27th of last month both of us were to address a seminar at Chandigarh where participants, apart from the Government officials, included a cross-section of people representing the general public. He came for that and it was also a part of his unfinished bilateral visit because when he came in response to my visit in May 2008, he had to rush back and cut short his visit because of a bereavement in his family. So, he wanted to fulfil these two objectives. In between, these things happened. When it happened, on 28th I talked to him. I spoke to him over phone. Shri Janeshwar Mishraji was a senior Minister in the Government, surely, he knows and many of you know that we do not make these types of conversations casually.
These conversations are recorded and they are called Speaking Notes in diplomatic language. I conveyed that diplomatic Speaking Note; every word of it was recorded and it was from the written text. I suggested three things to him. I suggested that we would expect Pakistan to act; to act to fulfil its own commitments made, not once, but twice, commitments made by the highest authorities in the Governments. On 6th January, 2004, in a joint statement issued by the then Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the then President, Shri Parvez Musharaff, the President committed that the territory of Pakistan would not be allowed to be used by terrorists.
This was reiterated on 24th September, 2008, in a joint statement issued by the President Shri Asif Ali Zardari and the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh -- the same assurance -- that the territory of Pakistan would not be allowed to be used by terrorists. What I said in the demarche was to call on Pakistan to fulfil this commitment. The banned organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba, has been declared as a banned organisation, but is operating under another name – Jamat-ud-Dawah. It is just the change of name, or, the change of sign-board. Persons are the same, leaders are the same and objectives are the same. Please take action against it. Please take action against those persons who have taken shelter in your country, who have violated Indian laws. Kindly hand them over to us. And, not merely words, please act. Words are no consolation. Not only to Pakistan but also to every interlocutor with whom I have had a conversation, I have pointed out Indian people's sense of outrage and their feeling of anger. Please recognise that. And, it is required that words must be followed by action. Merely flat denial is not going to help. It has to be acted upon.
And you fulfil your own commitments. What you have asked us, we have given the names, not of one or two persons but of 42 persons. Meetings at the level of the Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan, at the level of the Foreign Secretaries have been held, and four meetings of the joint anti-terror mechanism have also been held. This mechanism was established in November 2006. March 2007 onwards, in every meeting--four meetings have taken place -- we give these names but the response which we get is a flat denial. That is why we had to point out and we pointed out that unless these issues are addressed, business, as usual, cannot go on. This aspect has to be kept in view. Somebody might have come out with a thesis that it is not possible to defeat this country through open war; therefore, inflict thousand cuts. Let them die bleeding. Somebody may have this fancy idea but our people are not going to die bleeding. India is emerging and India will rise. India has emerged as an strong economic power, more than a trillion dollars economy. Despite the worldwide melt down, in most of the ratings of our economic growth, the minimum growth which has been projected by the World Bank is more than six per cent, even in today's newspapers, it is 7.5 - 8 per cent which is the envy of the world.
But that is a different story. The Finance Minister will be dealing with it at the appropriate time. The short point which I am trying to drive at is that if you want to cause harm to the others, if you create a Frankenstein, a monster, ultimately it is the lesson of history and civilisation, that the monster destroys its creators. Umpteen examples could be cited. Therefore, I do appreciate the complexity of the internal arrangement of Pakistan. But I cannot help it. I cannot interfere in it. I cannot make any comment on it. It is for them to address that issue. We have to deal only with the incumbent Government. Now, whether the incumbent Government is in a position to deliver or not is not my look-out. I cannot look into it. With whom shall I have to interact? I have to interact with Foreign Minister, with President, with Prime Minister, with the established Government, not with somebody, the so-called real power behind the scene. That may be practical politics. But that is not the domain of diplomacy, and, in the international arena, I shall have to deal with established Government. Therefore, I shall have to convey to the Foreign Minister. Unfortunately, a canard was spread that I telephoned the Pakistan President. Later on, it was discovered that it was a hoax call. Most respectfully, I would like to submit, Sir, that only once in my life I had a discussion, not telephonic, but face-to-face, oral discussion, with the President when I visited Pakistan in May, 2008. I called on him because I knew his wife when she was the Prime Minister of Pakistan in the first half of the nineties. On several occasions I had interactions with her. I knew her for quite some time. In fact, I was very keen to go and pay homage when she was killed but because of the prevailing situation in Pakistan, I could not go there.
Therefore, when the new democratic Government came, perhaps, India was the first country to send its Foreign Minister to have interaction with the newly elected Government. You have noticed that during the entire period, I have never commented a word, uttered a word, about the internal situation of Pakistan because when I was confronted by the foreign journalists, my response was 'I have great belief in the resilience of Pakistan's system, they will address their own problems. They will find a solution. Therefore, when the democratic Government came to power, was in place, I went there, started discussions, began the 5th round of composite dialogue, invited Foreign Minister. But after that, Kabul happened. On the 7th of July, there was an attack on our Embassy in Kabul. As per international law, attack on an Embassy is an attack on sovereignty, attack on the country. In the height of war, as per Vienna Convention, Embassies and Missions ought to be honoured. Afghan investigations pointed out the involvement of some elements in Pakistan. When we drew attention of the Pakistani Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to that, we got the response, 'we don't believe that evidence, we will investigate ourselves and we will let you know.' We are still waiting for the outcome of their own investigation into the Kabul incident.
If, after Kabul, Mumbai follows, can it be taken as business as usual. Can these incidents be erased or kept aside? I told my interlocutors in the international community that these issues ought to be addressed; you persuade them, you prevail upon them and you help them overcome their internal problem if there be any. I have no comment on it. I would not like to make any comment on their internal situation, internal mechanism and method of functioning. It is for them to address that. When there was the military government, we cooperated with them, but not at the dictats of somebody. That has been our practice. Whoever comes and gets recognised as the incumbent government, we recognise them. We are not to decide whether there will be a democratic government, whether there will be a military government or whether there will be an oligarchical government. It is for the people of the country to decide, not us. We recognised them. And, in our Foreign Policy, I must emphatically point out, that we do not believe in export of ideology. We believe that we cannot alter our neighbours. Neighbours are going to stay there and we have to live in peace with the neighbours. The question is whether we would live in peace or in perpetual tension. During the entire period that we have been in office, even earlier, our efforts have been to live in peace. Therefore, there will be no lack of peace initiative. But, at the same time, these issues ought to be addressed; and addressed adequately.
A point has been raised that we should move international institutions like the United Nations Security Council. Yes, we have moved where it was found necessary that we should move. As per the Resolution of the UN Security Council, a committee was set up, it was the Al Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee. When we pointed out that evidence is available that the outfit in Pakistan, Jamat-ud-Dawah, was an extension of Lashkar-e-Toiba under a different name, and asked them to take action against them, I am happy to inform the House, they have taken action against them; it has been put in the banned list. I read the speech of the representative of Pakistan in the UN Security Council. He said that if the UN Security Council bans it, we shall ban it in Pakistan. We said, 'fine, you ban it'. What we suggested in the demarche was -- don't do it at our request; do it on your own, but please do it. You carry out investigations under your own law but please make efforts to do it seriously. Don't repeat what you did after the attack on Parliament. The same persons were arrested; the same organisations were declared banned when international pressure mounted. And we have seen what happened after that.
Somebody has been put under house arrest. What does house arrest mean in a criminal case? We understand that somebody is on bail given by the court or if somebody is in judicial custody or police custody. But these persons were openly making speeches and statements, indulging anti-Indian activities. Therefore, we demanded dismantling of the infrastructure, training camps and logistic facilities, which were being made available to these terrorist outfits.
We are not lacking in co-operation. On October 21st, we initiated cross LOC trade between our two countries. We opened the bus routes starting from Lahore, and till today, there have been umpteen instances where we have extended our hand of co-operation. But, if somebody takes the hand and tries to twist it and expect that I will accept it without protest, I am afraid, that is too much. It cannot be allowed. The time has come when words must be followed by action and that is the simple request which we are making. Surely, we would not like to make Kashmir an international issue. We told our international interlocutors that this is an issue to be dealt with as per Shimla Agreement, as per Lahore Agreement.
It will have to be resolved bilaterally, however difficult, however strenuous, however time consuming it may be. There is no scope of any third-party intervention and we stick to that. Therefore, we would not like to internationalise it. It is as simple as that. Whatever arrangements, gaps in the security apparatus and other areas are - I am not competent to respond. The Home Minister and the Prime Minister are the competent persons. They will respond and reply. But, from the international point of view, certain facts have to be shared. Another point, which we have very respectfully pointed out to the Pakistani authorities, is that you are saying that the Government is not responsible. I have never claimed, I have never accused that Pakistan Government is responsible. Very carefully, I have used the words 'elements in Pakistan'. If they come from Pakistan, if the controller operates from Pakistan, if the satellite phone available on the ship records the conversation with the persons located in Pakistan, what does it mean? These things cannot be completely ignored – that is simply not possible. This is the short point which we have conveyed very clearly, unmistakably and we expect that they will act. And, if they do not act, then, it cannot be expected that there will be business as usual. There will be some sort of a situation which we do not want because we strongly believe that our development is linked together. But, there must be arrangements in place within the system prevailing in Pakistan to control these elements. And, they themselves are suffering because of it. Therefore, instead of shielding them or protecting them, please take action against them. They have suggested a high-level delegation. What would be the impact of the high-level delegation?
What will it mean? There is no dearth of talks. There is no dearth of mechanisms. Joint anti-terror mechanism is there; Framework of Composite Dialogue is there; eight subjects have been identified, and where we want, we can have talks; we have had talks. Till now the Indus – Water Treaty Pact is working well. Despite open declaration of war, nobody violated the conditions of that Treaty. But in the area of taking concerted actions, strong actions against terrorism, I am afraid that there is something lacking which is to be addressed. This is the message we have conveyed clearly to them and to all other international interlocutors with whom we have had discussions. Surely, we are in touch with everybody, and we are strongly against internationalising, or making any effort to internationalise, India-Pakistan relationship, or Kashmir issue. Those are not issues under discussions at all.
These attacks as a part of global terrorism have to be addressed but it has to be addressed with patience, with courage and with conviction. There is no need to unnecessarily become too strong in formulations, in our approaches. I do not believe in it. If somebody suggests that there should be an eye for an eye, I do not subscribe to that because Gandhiji once said, in that case, the whole world will be blind. I believe in that. Many years ago, Moses, perhaps, brought out this philosophy of "An eye for an eye, and, a tooth for a tooth" but today the civilization has made more advancement. We would like to resolve the issues coolly, and, we do hope that good sense will prevail.
I remember having read the article of Mr. Zardari, I appreciated it. I felt the anguish of the man who lost his wife in the senseless terrorist attack, and, the letter which she wrote to the then President was really revealing. It was published by a publishing house of London. I quoted a few lines from that book in the other House. I would not like to quote it again. But the message is that a complex system had been created in Pakistan, and, she said that everything is a circle within a circle, there was no straight line. Perhaps time has come when there should be straight lines. Sir, it would help them, and, it would help us. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Sir.