India reminds world of ‘united action’ against terror (Lead)

January 25th, 2009 - 10:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilNew Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) Two months after the Mumbai terrorist attack, allegedly plotted and executed by Pakistan-based elements, India Sunday urged the international community to take “decisive and united action” against the “epicentre of terrorism” in the region. “The international community must take decisive and united action against terrorism, which poses a grave threat to the stability of the world,” President Pratibha Patil said in her address to the nation on the eve of Republic Day.

“No country can afford to take an ambivalent attitude in this fight,” Patil said in her all-embracing speech that focused for the most on terrorism and the need to safeguard the country against terrorists and fundamentalists.

“As a responsible nation, the conduct of our foreign relations since independence has been to promote peace and development. We are, however, located in a region which harbors the epicentre of terrorism,” Patil said without directly naming Pakistan.

“Arguments that terrorism is being perpetuated by independent actors are self-defeating and cannot be accepted,” Patil said.

“Countries must own up their responsibilities as must the international community in defeating terrorism,” she said.

She was referring to Pakistan’s contention that non-state actors may have been involved in the Mumbai attacks - remarks that were seen as an evasive tactic by Pakistan and roundly condemned by the international community. Subsequently, India and the international community have made it clear that any government can’t wash their hands of the acts of the so-called non-state actors.

Patil’s remarks suggested a growing feeling in India that the international community needed to do more to pressurise Pakistan in bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice.

Patil also underlined that the Mumbai terrorist attacks were designed to damage the confidence of India, but the attacks only ended up unifying India.

“The concerted and well-planned attacks in Mumbai stand out as an example of a ruthless operation undertaken to damage the confidence of India. The nation was outraged. However, contrary to what the terrorists had hoped, the event saw the emergence of a unified and strong voice from India.”

She cited the recent assembly elections, which were held in the shadow of the Mumbai attacks, and said that a large number of people in the states, including in Jammu and Kashmir, came out to vote and “reaffirmed the faith of the people of India in a democratic polity”.

Underscoring that the top priority of the government to secure the country against “terrorist and fundamentalist elements,” the president enumerated the steps taken to deal with the scourge.

“The government has put in place a new agency to deal with terrorist threats and has also brought in legislative changes. A determined, coordinated and concerted approach by all agencies to tackle this menace would be necessary,” she stressed.

She said the country needed technology which is one up on that used by the terrorists, who were increasingly using sophisticated equipment to carry out their agenda.

The president also underlined that the finalisation of the nuclear civil cooperation agreement has made India a participant in the international regime for nuclear energy and was an expression of confidence by the international community in India.

The president expressed concern over the financial scandal at Satyam Computer Services, without naming the company, and stressed on clear principles of accountability in corporate governance.

“Some companies that over-extended or functioned in an unethical manner have caused losses to shareholders. There must be clear principles of accountability when such losses take place,” the president maintained.

“The richness of a few cannot be at the cost of depriving others of their due,” Patil added.

“India has been impacted by the global environment. However, our economy has the fundamental strength and resilience to remain on course for economic growth. The global financial crisis can be seen as an opportunity to reinforce the structures of our domestic economy.”

She said the empowerment of women was necessary and a woman has a right to live with dignity and a right to be an equal citizen of the country.

“As the first woman president of India, there is a natural empathy that I have for the women of our country. I am conscious about the constraints and difficulties that they face in realising their full potential. Their empowerment is necessary and that can only come through education and economic development. A woman has a right to live with dignity and a right to be an equal citizen of the country.”

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