India voiced disappointment over the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Saturday, and hoped the tenuous process of restoring peace in Iraq would not be affected.
Reacting to Hussein’s hanging at dawn in Baghdad, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “We hope this unfortunate event will not affect the process of reconciliation, restoration of peace and normalcy in Iraq. We had expressed the hope that the execution would not be carried out. We are disappointed.”
According to a senior MEA official, it was the “deeply flawed” nature of the trial Hussein got, and not so much its outcome, that India found objectionable. “Had he (Hussein) been tried by a Security Council-mandated tribunal, like (Serbian leader Slobodan) Milosevic was, it (the judicial process) would have appeared more credible, even though the outcome would probably have been the same,” the official said.
Mukherjee’s cautiously worded statement was indicative of government concerns that violent protests could engulf West Asia and the Gulf region, where over four million Indians live and work.
The execution could also spark protests across the country, with demonstrators critical of the United States.
Another senior official and former envoy to Iraq said the government’s statement reflected the sorrow it felt.
“After all, India is not a significant player in the region, and it is no point expressing anger at a done deed,” the official said. Calling the execution during this holy period a “deliberate and systematic provocation of the Islamic world,” the official said the hanging reflected, “the US’s complete misunderstanding of the issues in West Asia.” “Saddam will now emerge as the most significant martyr of the occupation.”
The hanging also evoked strong condemnation from political parties in India and also triggered protests on the streets. The development was termed “unfortunate and barbaric” — and one that was likely to mark the beginning of a “more serious and bigger problem” in trouble-torn West Asia.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said the execution was not the solution, while adding that the development showed that the forces in power in Iraq have failed to win the hearts and minds of the people.
CPM leader Nilotpal Basu said the urgency shown in executing Saddam was suspect, while expressing the fear that the development would have an adverse impact not only in Iraq but in other parts of the world as well.
The BJP, however, chose to remain silent. The party leadership felt opposing the execution would go against the hardcore Hindutva line that it has chosen to follow ever since Rajnath Singh took over as president.
Jammu and Kashmir CPM leader Mohd Yusuf Tarigami termed the hanging as “judicial assassination”. “The killing is also an eye-opener for those who have any illusion about the so-called architects of democracy and human rights,” he added.
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