Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed on Thursday, once caused a major diplomatic embarassment to India when he supported the idea of an “independent state” for Kashmir and said that it should be a ‘Baathist state’ between India and Pakistan.
In his maiden address to the UN General Assembly in 2009, the maverick leader also mentioned India as among the countries that will be competing for a permanent seat in the Security Council while opposing the induction of big powers into the powerful body.
Gaddafi, who has rarely been a person India has been comfortable with, in his speech railed against India and Kashmir as well.
“Kashmir should be an independent state, not Indian, not Pakistani. We should end this conflict. It should be a Ba’athist state between India and Pakistan,” said Gaddafi, shunned internationally for much of his rule because the West accused him of terrorism.
It was for the first time in recent times that a Muslim leader outside the Indian sub-continent had advocated Kashmir’s complete independence both from India and Pakistan.
Speaking with contempt on a range of issues, the Arab world’s longest serving leader said opening the doors of the UNSC for big powers would “add more poverty, more injustice, more tension at the world level”. He came to power in 1969 and his years of quixotic and often brutal rule came to an end early this year.
“There would be high competition between Italy, Germany Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Japan, Argentina, Brazil …,” Gaddafi said during his more than one-and-a-half-hour long address.
Stressing that there must be equality among member states, Gaddafi had noted that since India and Pakistan were both nuclear powers, if India had a seat then Pakistan would want one as well.
He also struck a raw nerve in Indian foreign policy circles by likening his crackdown against the Libyan Opposition to India’s actions in Kashmir on the eve of the UN Security Council debate and vote against Libya in February this year.
Gaddafi, in a missive to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sought India’s support for his actions, as civil war broke out in Libya. India voted for the UNSC resolution, which was passed unanimously.
Gaddafi’s mercurial character, though, was on full display on Libya’s national day in March this year which he celebrated. In a five-hour address in Tripoli, he mentioned India at least five times, including saying that he would give future commercial contracts to Indian and Chinese companies and that he was very pleased with India’s vote in the UN Security Council. Economic Times