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
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
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
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
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
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
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.