Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pranab defends response to terror

NEW DELHI: Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday strongly rebutted BJP's charge that the government's response to terrorism had been inadequate claiming that diplomacy had yielded results with international pressure being brought to bear on Pakistan.

He rejected BJP's criticism that anti-terror laws were half-baked, saying that their effectiveness lay in how they were implemented. He also ruled out military action, saying that retaliatory action was not necessarily the best way of resolving an issue. "We can't imitate other countries, their way of doing things because many innocent lives are lost," he said.

He also based his arguments against reactive strikes on terror bases by pointing out that diplomacy was achieving results without moving a single soldier or laying mines, a dig at the NDA government's decision to go in for Operation Parakram.

The minister, who spoke in both Houses, also took on the Left's perennial criticism that India was kowtowing to the US by pointing out that foreign policy was guided by national interest. "We are pro none. If at all, we are pro India." He denied the charge of deviating from India's held policy of supporting Palestinian people for their home land.

"Foreign policy is nothing but promotion of national interest," Mukherjee said and added that India was fully with the Arab League in condemning the attack on the Gaza Strip. He said he had visited Iran thrice and had close ties with Arabian countries who were the "principal suppliers of our fuel". "But I can have friendship with both," he added.

Mukherjee said, "We are not subservient to any one. We are not afraid but we don't go around brandishing our sword like Don Quixote at every windmill."

In Lok Sabha, he also indicated that government disapproved of chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami's recommendation for the removal of Navin Chawla as election commissioner.

BJP had charged that India under UPA had become a weak state with Taliban at its door steps, and internal security compromised for "vote bank politics". Leading the attack, Arun Jaitley had charged that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was like a night watchman in cricket who was waiting for the heir apparent to take charge from him and that the UPA government failed to bring a effective law against terrorism.

CPM's Brinda Karat had alleged that government's apathy towards farmers was reflected in the president's speech where there was no mention of it at a time when farmers were committing suicide.


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