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Pak in danger of losing NAM berth

Pak in danger of losing NAM berth

By Seema Guha
>From The Times of India (New Delhi)
April 11, 2000

CARTAGENA: India notched up a couple of significant brownie points at
the end of the non-aligned foreign ministers' meeting on Sunday,
succeeding in its efforts to isolate and embarrass Pakistan. The
majority of the 115 member-states agreed to external affairs minister
Jaswant Singh's suggestion that it was time the Non-Aligned Movement
took a principle stand against countries which subverted democratic
principles. Taking the cue from the Commonwealth and the Organisation of
African Unity groupings, Singh stressed that NAM must also ensure that
dictators and military rulers were banished from its membership. The
final declaration called for the adoption of this clause during the next
summit meeting in Dhaka.

A relaxed Singh told reporters later: "We have every reason to be
entirely satisfied with the proceedings. There have been areas of
significant gains for India." A combination of tough backroom lobbying
and shrewd manoeuvring of opportunities which came up during the two-day
meeting, helped further India's diplomatic cause.

Singh had pushed the point that NAM should take note of the changing
political culture and take a stand on democracy. So far, NAM had not
made democracy a bench-mark for membership. It had never taken a stand
against dictatorship and military regimes because many of its leading
lights in the past did not have democratic credentials. The fact was
also overlooked because countries which had over thrown colonial rule
were facing countless challenges, often resulting in seeking the army's

The purpose of the entire exercise is not so much respect for democracy
as to nail down Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, If
Democracy was the hallmark, India could be just as cool towards its
eastern neighbour, Myanmar. Yet, New Delhi, in its eagerness to woo the
military junta in Myanmar, has steadily ignored the cause of the
democratic movement in that country. Jaswant Singh was confident that
despite India's stand against military rulers at the NAM meeting here,
it would remain friends with the current rulers of Myanmar.

Musharraf is regarded by India as the man responsible for Kargil and
Delhi has missed no opportunity since the military coup to corner
Pakistan at every international meeting. The fact that manyAfrican and
Latin American members are passionate in their antipathy to military
regimes has helped smoothen New Delhi's path.

Another opportunity came India's way when Qatar, the host of the next
OIC, asked NAM to welcome the summit to be held later this year. New
Delhi, long used to being harangued by Pakistan at the OIC, seized the
chance to strike a bargain. NAM was ready to welcome the summit as long
as the OIC stuck to the principles adopted by NAM. India hoped this
would help those who had earlier fallen in line with Pakistan's
leadership of the OIC ? they could now question or oppose the anti-India
resolutions which are an annual feature of the meeting.

Jaswant Singh dismissed the Pakistan foreign minister's suggestion for
talks, saying: "We are not onto a PR exercise but to get down to serious
bilateral discussions."