Check countries sponsoring terrorism, says Vajpayee
6 October 2001
Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI: Citing the suicide bomb attack in Srinagar, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today urged the world community to restrain individual countries from pursuing their own terrorist agenda in the name of counter-terrorism campaign, even as the visiting British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, stressed that Afghanistan was the immediate focus of the coalition of nations battling extremism . In an obvious reference to Pakistan, Mr. Vajpayee said, ''we discussed the sinister agenda behind the Srinagar bomb blast. Even while extending our whole-hearted support to the pursuit of the guilty terrorists of September 11, we should not let countries pursue their own terrorist agenda under cover of this action''. He made these observations at a joint press conference with Mr. Blair this morning. The British Prime Minister was here on a working visit as part of a whirlwind tour which also took him to Russia and Pakistan. During the talks, Mr. Vajpayee was accompanied by his Principal Secretary and National Security Adviser, Mr. Brajesh Mishra, and the External Affairs and Defence Minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh, among others. Asserting that India was not prepared to lower its guard, Mr. Vajpayee said New Delhi ''will remain vigilant against such threats and will counter them decisively''. This is his second statement in a week highlighting India''s concerns on terrorism in Kashmir after the suicide-bombing in Jammu and Kashmir. Mr. Vajpayee said the struggle against terrorism had to be truly global in its sweep. India had for over two decades virtually waged a lone battle against terrorism. But ''in this globalised world, distance and time do not provide insulation from the reach of terrorism''. Illustrating the global nature of terrorism, he drew a connection between the hijack of the Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu two years ago to the attacks in the U.S. ''The hijack of an aircraft from Kathmandu to Kandahar may have linkages with four other aircraft creating havoc in the U.S. nearly two years later. This is precisely why terrorism has to be dealt with globally.'' Mr. Vajpayee said that ''condoning a terrorist act in one place may lay the foundation of a far more virulent act elsewhere''. Mr. Blair reiterated his condemnation of the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir. ''We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those who are victims of the terrorist outrage in Srinagar.'' But to a question on Pakistan''s credentials as a partner in the counter-terrorism drive, Mr. Blair said ''our focus is upon dealing with the situation in Afghanistan and closing down Osama bin Laden''s camps and his terrorist networks.'' He hoped there would be efforts to ensure stability in the region based on proper respect to the rule of law and civilised values. Both leaders agreed to promote a new and stable Government in Afghanistan that was broad-based and represented all the ethnic communities there. Mr. Vajpayee, however, made two specific points in reference to Afghanistan. Contrary to the Pakistani view, India has a legitimate interest in Afghanistan with which it has maintained ''traditional ties''. And any new arrangement in Afghanistan should not be inimical to Indian interests.