Washington, Oct. 10: Making amends for his omission of India as a victim of terrorism in his address to the UN General Assembly, US President George W. Bush yesterday listed New Delhi among the cities which have been targeted by terrorists in their global effort to spread chaos.
“Since September the 11th, the terrorists have taken lives — since the attacks on our nation that fateful day, the terrorists have attacked in Casablanca, Mombasa, Jerusalem, Amman, Riyadh, Baghdad, Karachi, New Delhi, Bali, and Jakarta,” Bush said in a speech to the New Hampshire Air National Guard, Army National Guard, reservists and their families at Pease Air National Guard Base in Portsmouth.
On September 23, in his address to the UN on the eve of meeting Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New York, Bush had said: “Twenty four months ago — and yesterday in the memory of America — the center of New York City became a battlefield and a graveyard and the symbol of an unfinished war. Since that day, terrorists have struck in Bali, Mombassa, in Casablanca, in Riyadh, in Jakarta, in Jerusalem — measuring the advance of their cause in the chaos and innocent suffering they leave behind.”
Within hours of the American President’s UN address, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani reacted in Kochi. “I wish the world would become acutely aware of the fact that for India, ISI, which is a limb of the state of Pakistan, is more dangerous than al Qaida or Taliban,” he said.
Signalling unhappiness at the omission of India in the speech, Advani said “there is still a lack of realisation that state-sponsored terrorism is worse than terrorist organisations”.
Although Bush obviously took into account the Indian reaction and included New Delhi in his address yesterday, his speech writers were careful to ensure that this reference to India did not create more grievances than what it sought to redress.
They included Pakistan as a victim of terrorism. Four new locations were added to the list in the UN address. These were Amman, Baghdad, Karachi and New Delhi.
At a press conference in New York on September 26 at the end of his visit to the UN, Vajpayee had shared Advani’s disappointment over the Bush omission. “It is natural for India to be disappointed,” Vajpayee said in reply to a question.
“We are disappointed with many countries in the world, which do not recognise our struggle against what is a global evil.”
At the same time, the Prime Minister pointed out that while Bush did not mention India, the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, had done so in his opening address to the General Assembly.
Speaking shortly before Bush, Annan had said: “Terrorism is not a problem only for rich countries. Ask the people of Bali or Bombay or Nairobi or Casablanca.”
Annan’s reference obviously was to the twin bombings which had taken place in Mumbai a few days earlier.
Since then, India has had several opportunities to make its doubts and displeasure about Washington’s double standards on terrorism clear to Americans.