Pak enmity a hitch for SC seat

United State's former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, presents her views on myriad issues ranging from Iraq and nuclear non-Proliferation and to the US Policy and Pakistan. She also voices her opinion on the issue of United Nations Security Council expansion and India's case for permanent membership in an interview with Pramit Pal Chaudhri.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2004 21:29 IST

Should India get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council?

When I was in the Clinton administration we spent a lot of time on Security Council expansion. It was very a complicated issue. I guess I believe that India, for many reasons, should be a permanent member – its power, its size.

But it has to resolve its problems with Pakistan. We don't particularly want permanent members of the Security Council that have permanent enmity with their neighbours. None of the other P-5 have such problems with an immediate member. But I have said I think India should be a permanent member.

How should India deal with its neighbour Pakistan – a dictatorship, with WMD and terrorists?

Prime Minister Vajpayee has taken some important steps put out feelers, to get dialogue going and make some movement to a different relationship with Pakistan. I would support that.

I also think the United States should make it clear there should be some kind of calendar for the return of some form democracy in Pakistan.

Should India then wait to deal with a democratic regime in Pakistan?

No. The United States dealt with Khruschev and Brezhnev. You deal with what you have. It's impossible in normal circumstances for one country to choose the leader of another.

The way Prime Minister Vajpayee is approaching the issue is to be applauded at this stage. I hope very much that the Pakistani responds. I think the important part generally is that there needs to be more dialogue with President Pervez Musharraf. But I think there needs to something from the US side saying that there needs to some movement on democracy, that democracy returns to Pakistan. In the end, India doesn't have much choice. Its a neighbour India has, and it's a potentially dangerous relationship. Prime Minister Vajpayee is taking the right step.

What is your opinion on Indo-US relations?

I am very proud of the fact that the change in the Indo-US relationship came about under President Clinton. He came here and that was really the beginning of the flowering of the relationship. And I would really like to see the US build on that.

I am quite intrigued by what I have heard at the Peace Dividend conference on greater regional cooperation. And I would hope that this was an opportunity that the US might want to support. I found Prime Minister Vajpayee's speech on December 12 very interesting.

What is your view of US policy in Iraq right now?

I am troubled by the fact it is taking so long to a secure situation in iraq.
I have said I agree on the why for the Iraqi war. I agreed with how President George W. Bush talked about the problem of Saddam Hussein. All the things he said about him I believed to be true. But I did not understand why we had to have a war now. This was a war of choice. And I also did not think that the postwar plan had been well though out. I was worried about the chaotic situation.

I now believe it is absolutely essential that we all together win the peace. I am hoping that there will be international support for trying to create and sustain a democratic Iraq.

What role would you like India to play?

I now that India has been giving some nonmilitary support to the situation in Iraq. I would have hoped that they might have been willing to send some forces to help create a better security situation. I don't know enough about the negotiations that went on. This is true not only for India.

Despite the fact that I disagree with the timing of this war, that I disagree with the planning was done, we are where we are and it is a dangerous situation. It is not just a threat to the region or the United States, but to everyone.

How would you assess Bush's foreign policy?

I have been very interested with what President Bush has been saying about democracy and the speech he gave supporting democracy. The speech he recently gave at the National Endowment for Democracy was one I would generally agree with. I just don't know how he would translate words into actions.

But I have generally been critical of the Bush administration's foreign policy. I am someone who believes in multilateralism when possible. While there may be times when unilateralism maybe necessary, I don't think enough diplomatic effort went into getting more support for our actions. I am very troubled by a variety of survey material that indicates the United States has lost a lot of credibility.
So I am troubled by then Bush administration's policies. Not only the unilateral but also the unidimensional aspect of its foreign policy.

What should be US foreign policy's priorities?

I obviously think fighting terrorism is the major issue especially as its linked to the lack of control over various components of WMDs. Because the arms bazaar is also filled with conventional weapons and other things that one reads about, things coming out of the former Soviet Union and Afghanistan. That linkage, what I call "the devil's marriage" between terrorism and technology it is the major issue to worry about.

Going back to the loose weapons, I believe the nonproliferation system has completely fallen apart. I believe there are some real questions as how viable the various parts of the NPT are. Look at what is happening about North Korea and Iran. I am slightly optimistic about developments in Iran. But I am pessimistic about North Korea.

You've held the highest post held by a woman in the US. What was your reaction to seeing so many South Asian political leaders at this conference?

I have to say I was shocked to see Sonia Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto and myself described in the newspapers this morning by what we wore. Made me think not much has changed. But I am always glad to see women in positions of power.

First Published: Dec 13, 2003 20:50 IST