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India's Tibet policy under sharp criticism

April 6, 2008

Hindustan Times
New Delhi, April 05, 2008

India's Tibet policy came in for sharp criticism on Saturday, with
former diplomats and experts pulling up the government for compromising
on principles in a bid to placate China over the issue.

"China has claimed Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory and
offended our sensibilities. We shouldn't give the impression that we are
buckling under the Chinese pressure," former foreign secretary Kanwal
Sibal said at a seminar on the situation in Tibet in New Delhi.

"We should make it plain to the Chinese how our system works. Tibetans
can hold peaceful demonstrations in India. The symbolism of the Olympic
torch is incompatible with what is happening in Tibet," Sibal said.

"We must create space for ourselves. It's regrettable we are not
thinking ahead," he said.

"We should have a more vigorous Tibet policy. It is at the core of our
nationhood and our relations with China," Sibal underlined.

G Parthasarathy, a former Indian envoy to Pakistan, charged that the
Indian government was "bending over backwards" to please China over the
Tibetan issue. He strongly objected to the summoning of the Indian
ambassador by Beijing past midnight to express concerns over Tibetan
protests in India.

"Why should we keep blindly repeating that Tibet is part of China? As
long as China claims Arunachal to be part of the Chinese territory, we
should not concede Tibet is part of China," Parthasarathy asserted.

"India's ambassador is summoned at 2 am in the morning and we don't
protest," he said while alluding to New Delhi's diplomatic silence over
Beijing's summoning of Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao by the Chinese
foreign office recently.

"Stop being apologetic and work in the international community under
international law," he advised the government asking it to show "spine"
by speaking out on gross human rights violations in Tibet.

"It's shocking that we have asked the Dalai Lama to resist from
political activities. Let's not forget that the Dalai Lama fled from the
Chinese persecution when he came to India in 1959. How can we expect him
to keep his mouth shut?" he asked.

He was referring to a recent statement by External Affairs Minister
Pranab Mukherjee saying that while the Dalai Lama was an honoured guest
in India, he and his followers should not indulge in anti-China
activities or any other activity on Indian territory that can hurt
India's ties with other countries.

Soli Sorabjee, a former attorney general, criticised the government's
response to the crackdown on Tibetan protesters as a sign of
capitulation to Beijing and asked Beijing to stop brutal repression in

India granted asylum to the Dalai Lama in 1959 in the northern hill town
of Dharamsala - the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile - on an
understanding that he and his nearly 100,000 followers in India will not
indulge in political activities.
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