Taking an apparent swipe at Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to a joint sitting of the United States Congress in Washington on Wednesday, said terrorism was being “incubated in India’s neighbourhood” and pressed for action without making any distinction against terror groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba, Taliban and Islamic State, who share the “same philosophy of hate, murder and killings
Modi is the fifth Indian Prime Minister to address a joint session of the US Congress. Dressed in his trademark white kurta pyjama and grey-coloured half-jacket, Modi received a standing ovation from US lawmakers on at least eight occasions during the course of his speech.
During his address, Modi covered all major aspects of the growing relationship between India and the US, particularly strategic ties and civil nuclear cooperation, and emphasised that the two countries should leave “constraints of the past” behind as the “foundations of the future are firmly in place”.
Defending India’s human rights record, the PM said that for his government, the Constitution is the “real holy book” that provides freedom of faith and speech to all citizens regardless of their background.
“India lives as one, India grows as one and India celebrates as one,” he proclaimed. His remarks came against the backdrop of the Congress-mandated US Commission for International Religious Freedom’s annual report, which claimed that religious freedom in India was on a “negative trajectory” in 2015 as religious tolerance “deteriorated” and religious freedom violations “increased”. In an apparent reference to the blocking of the sale of F-16 warplanes to Pakistan, he commended US lawmakers for sending out a clear message by refusing to “reward” those who preach and practice terrorism for political gain.
Underscoring that both India and the US share the vision of global peace and prosperity, Modi said that globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat and it must be fought at many levels as the traditional tools of military, intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to defeat it.
Emphasising that terrorism must be delegitimised, he said, “The need of the hour is for us to deepen our security cooperation.” He said cooperation should be based on a policy that “isolates those who harbour, support and sponsor terrorists; that does not distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists; and that delinks religion from terrorism”.
The PM highlighted how the US stood by India in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, which originated from Pakistan. He also emphasised cultural ties between the two nations, citing estimates that “more Americans bend for yoga than to throw a curve ball”. Hailing the achievements of Indian-Americans, he said they were among US’ best business executives, scientists, even spelling bee champions.