The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US catch in Delhi drive
- Terror resolution seen as support for action on Iraq

New Delhi, Oct. 9: A resolution on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism being moved by India at the current session of the UN General Assembly is likely to kick up a controversy at home as well as outside, specially among members of the Arab and the developing world.

The unstated purpose of the resolution is to swivel the international community’s focus to countries like Pakistan. But, coming as it does at this juncture, many may see it as unqualified support for the US’ proposed war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Indian officials said the proposed resolution was aimed at targeting “non-state actors” rather than countries which possess weapons of mass destruction. The issue has gained currency over the past one year and many countries have expressed concern over it.

“Everyone in the world realises now that if al Qaida were in possession of such weapons, the tragedy and the damage at the World Trade Center on September 11 could have been much graver and to a much larger scale,” a senior South Block official said.

The Group of Eight (G8) — a forum of the most developed countries in the world — had spoken at length on the issue in its last meeting at Canada and flagged it as a major concern. India feels that in view of growing concern over the issue, the UN should focus on it and take necessary steps to deal with it.

India proposes to move the resolution in the next few days in the first committee of the UN General Assembly that deals with issues relating to disarmament. The Sri Lankans are keen to co-sponsor it but, so far, no decision has been taken.

The Indian leadership has been talking about Pakistan’s “nuclear blackmail” to skirt the issue of cross-border terrorism during talks with key world leaders.

Although neither Pakistan nor any other country is being named in the resolution, South Block feels the proposed move can bring the focus of the international community to developments in countries like Pakistan.

The terrorist groups operating from Pakistan with the help of the government and the re-grouping of al Qaida and Taliban members in that country have already created a sinister scenario.

Indian officials argue that it can be far worse if sections in the Pakistani Establishment opposed to President Pervez Musharraf gang up with the terrorists and pass on weapons of mass destruction to the rebels.

Though India does not want to bring too much attention on Pakistan at this juncture for fear of its move being interpreted as yet another game of brinkmanship between the nuclear neighbours, it hopes that ultimately the resolution will target regimes like the one in Islamabad.

But, at the moment, it could end up augmenting the argument that the Bush administration is using against Saddam to build up support for armed action in Iraq.

India’s play-safe policy on developments concerning Baghdad has come as a surprise to many and invited criticism from several quarters.

The proposed resolution could be seen by Delhi’s adversaries, both within the country and outside, as yet another shift in its policy with a pronounced tilt towards Washington.

Indian officials seem unperturbed by the possible adverse reaction to the resolution.

“We think it is an issue to which the world community needs to give its attention. Our resolution is not directed against any country. The aim is only to highlight the potential threat,” a senior official of the foreign ministry said.

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