Manmohan asks NAM to take a stand on Syria

The Hindu

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While India supports the desire for a democratic and pluralistic order in all nations, external interventions, rather than achieving this aim, tend to affect the ordinary citizens, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cautioned.

Speaking on the opening day of the XVIth Non-Aligned Movement Summit here on Thursday, he said: “The West Asian and North African region is undergoing profound change. As the world’s largest democracy, India supports popular aspirations for a democratic and pluralistic order. Nevertheless, such transformations cannot be prompted by external interventions, which exacerbate the suffering of ordinary citizens.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shakes hands with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari during a meeting in Tehran, Iran on Thursday.

As the deteriorating situation in Syria was a matter of concern, the NAM should take a stand on the issue in keeping with universally accepted principles. “We should urge all parties to recommit themselves to resolving the crisis peacefully through a Syrian-led inclusive political process that can meet the legitimate aspirations of all Syrian citizens,” he observed.

On Palestine, he felt the NAM, which he described as “our Movement,” should renew its pledge to support its early resolution so that the “long suffering people” lived in peace and dignity in their own State.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the XVI NAM Summit in Tehran on Thursday.

The Prime Minister’s reference to Palestine came against a concerted effort by Israel and some of its Western allies through a section of the media and diplomatic demarches to belittle the NAM summit and its host, Iran.

Apart from these hard political topics of the day, Dr. Singh touched on the summit’s theme of “Lasting Peace through Joint Global Governance” and the areas where the NAM should reorient itself. The structures of global governance remained driven by the power equations of the past and their inadequacy in dealing with the ongoing economic and political crises was “not surprising.”

In the past, as individual nation-States, the NAM members might have had little economic and military clout. But the collective voice and reasoned interventions of “our Movement” commanded respect and credibility. Dr. Singh wanted that voice to again find a “true expression” on a variety of issues, including developing new instruments of global governance (reform of the United Nations Security Council, the World Bank and the IMF), international terror, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, piracy and threats to cyber security. At the same time, it should ensure that economic crisis should not lead to dilution of development assistance flows from the developed world.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the XVI NAM Summit in Tehran on Thursday.

Describing Africa, which had provided the intellectual wellspring for many of NAM leaders, as having a special place in the “Movement,” the Prime Minister invited interested members to work with India in areas of priority to Africa (New Delhi had joined hands with the United States for the purpose in select countries).

Dr. Singh concluded by acknowledging differing views among the NAM members on different issues, but was confident that the deliberations in Tehran would be helpful in restoring this historic Movement to its rightful place on the international stage.

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