Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Address to Indian Nation
New Delhi, India
September 14, 2001

My dear countrymen,

As you know, terrorists have struck yet another blow - at the United States of America, at humanity, at the civilized way of life.

But I have not the slightest doubt about the eventual outcome. Democracies, open, free and plural societies shall prevail.

Our prayers rise for those who have been killed. Our hearts go out to those who have lost their loved ones. Every Indian feels for them.

More than that, at least fifty three thousand families in India know exactly the pain they are going through at the moment: for terrorists have mowed down and blown up that number here in India over the last two decades.

For years we in India have been alerting others to the fact that terrorism is a scourge for all of humanity, that what happens in Mumbai one day is bound to happen elsewhere tomorrow, that the poison that propels mercenaries and terrorists to kill and maim in Jammu and Kashmir will impel the same sort to blow up people elsewhere.

In the Address I had delivered at the joint meeting of the United States Congress a year ago, I had said,

"Many of you here in the Congress have in recent hearings recognised a stark fact - no region is a greater source of terrorism than our neighbourhood. Indeed, in our neighbourhood - in this, the 21st Century - religious war has not just been fashioned into, it has been proclaimed to be, an instrument of State policy. Distance offers no insulation. It should not cause complacence. "You know, and I know - such evil cannot succeed. But even in failing it could inflict untold suffering. That is why the United States and India have begun to deepen their cooperation for combating terrorism. We must redouble these efforts."

In the wake of this new blow, Rashtrapatiji has assured President Bush that we stand united with the American people in this hour of grief. I have reiterated to President Bush that what the terrorists have done "sends a strong message to democracies that we redouble our efforts to defeat this grave threat to our people, our values and our way of life."

I have assured him that "we stand ready to cooperate with you in the investigations into this crime and to strengthen our partnership in leading international efforts to ensure that terrorism never succeeds again."

It is for the same reason that India has taken the lead over the last two years to have the United Nations adopt a Comprehensive Convention against Terrorism. That Convention is ready. The international community should finalise it, and begin acting on it in concert. I can scarcely stress that too much -the imperative that peoples and governments act in concert. Those who wreak evil have their networks across the world. Those who will thwart them must be united too. We must strike at the roots of the system that breeds terrorism. We must stamp out the infrastructure that imparts the perverse ideological poison by which the terrorist is fired up.

We must hold governments wholly accountable for the terrorism that originates from their countries.

In a word, to get at the terrorists, the world community must get at their organizations, at those who condition, finance, train, equip and protect them. To get at the organizations, it must isolate, and thus compel the States that nurture and support them, to desist from doing so.

And we must do so, recognizing that the death inflicted on some distant people is as revolting as death inflicted on us. It is as necessary that the perpetrators of such horrors be brought to justice - whichever place, whoever is their target in any particular instance.

In a word, my countrymen, the terrorists and those who give him a safe haven are enemies of every human being, they have set themselves against the world. The world must join hands: to overwhelm them militarily, to neutralize their poison.

As an integral part of this battle, it is necessary that we bear in mind that no religion preaches terrorism. The fringe elements of society, which seek to cloak terrorism in a religious garb, do grave injustice to both their faith and its followers. Our revulsion against their barbaric acts should not prejudice us against the innocent people who practice the religion, for which the terrorists claim to act. If this happens, we would only be furthering the terrorists' agenda of fomenting hatred and division in society along communal lines. The fiendish destruction in the US has immediate consequences for us, it has direct lessons for us.

What the terrorists have inflicted on the US, once again reminds us that the people and countries that are peace loving, have to be prepared for the entire spectrum of violence -for it is the aggressor, the terrorist who shall choose what weapon to deploy. His target has to build the capacity to counter whichever device he deploys. Now, being prepared across the spectrum, costs resources, it costs enormous amounts. But that is the price we have to pay for holding our own in the world of today.

That is all the more so in the region in which we are placed. As this region has become the hub of terrorism, much of the response to the destruction that the terrorists caused on 11th September, could take place in our vicinity. Quite apart from the dangers with which we are confronted on our own, this response itself will impose heightened costs. We have to brace ourselves to bear them. And remember that this turn has come at a time when the world economy was already on the edge of a substantial slow down. The pressures are certain to become more intense:

India spends almost Rs. 90,000 crore on importing oil. An increase in the price of a barrel of oil by just a dollar increases our import bill by Rs. three thousand six hundred crore.

On the one hand, there is liable to be less demand for our exports; on the other, our competitors, facing the same pressures, are liable to exert even harder to push their exports;

On the one hand, because of heightened uncertainties, the flows of foreign direct investment are liable to shrink; on the other, we will have to try even harder to convince the potential investor that India is a better destination for his funds than other countries.

For reasons such as these, we have to redouble our efforts, we have to prepare ourselves for harsh measures in the coming months. But we have to do more than just bear economic costs.

We have to review our hobbled laws, our dilatory procedures. That even the first stage of the trial of those who carried out the serial blasts in Mumbai, has not been completed is an open invitation to terrorists to continue with impunity.

But governmental agencies are not the only ones that have to pull themselves up. Each of us has to willingly put up with the inconveniences that come our way as the security forces go about their work.

In the end, I am sure each of you would want me to once again convey heartfelt sympathies to the families of those who have been killed. Our condolences also to the families of the numerous Indians and Indian Americans who have lost their lives. These were our children, who were using their genius to unite India and the United States in a common quest for a strong and peaceful future. Their death binds our two countries in a common resolve to defeat forever the forces of terror.

My countrymen, the coming months are going to be months of trial. All who love freedom - peoples as well as governments - all democracies must stand firm, and united, and resolute. And in India, all of us must be one. The first requisite in this battle is that –
  • We maintain peace and communal harmony at home; We remain united in purpose.

  • We remain unflinching in our resolve to bear the hardships that come our way.
Every Indian has to be a part of this global war on terrorism.

We must, and we will, stamp out this evil from our land, and from the world.

Jai Hind.