India asks Myanmar to begin
India has again asked Myanmar to initiate inclusive political reforms. It also called upon Myanmar to release political prisoners “as far as is possible” and probe violence against unarmed civilians.
“We want political reforms and the process of reconciliation to start immediately and it has to be inclusive,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told newspersons on the sidelines of a conference on Asian economic integration here on Monday.
“As far as possible, important political prisoners should be released. There should be some sort of inquiry into the excesses which were resorted to, as it is being alleged by the media and other sources.”
India’s reiteration of its position came on the day U.N. official Paulo Sergio Pinheiro met officials in Myanmar to assess the human rights situation. He is on his first visit, four years after he was barred from entering the country following a tiff with the ruling regime on human rights issues.
While other countries, notably from the West, have been urging India to take a strident line on the suppression of political freedom and human rights in Myanmar, New Delhi has refrained from being seen as frequently castigating the junta because of its own unique national interest including a 1,400-km boundary between Myanmar and four sensitive northeastern States. With Bangladesh unresponsive to giving access to the northeast, India is framing an agreement to allow use of Myanmar territory as a transit route.
Myanmar would also be crucial for a surface route to Thailand and other countries as part of India’s efforts to integrate its Look East policy with development of the northeastern States.