India has fired back at Washington on several contentious issues – including the threat of sanctions and its selective fight for human rights – while maintaining that ties between the two sides are strong enough to accommodate differences.
In a blunt rebuttal to the US menacing India with sanctions threats over its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense system, the Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said CAATSA, the US domestic law that enjoins sanctions for such transactions with American adversaries, was for Washington to sort out.
“It is their legislation and whatever has to be done has to be done by them,” Jaishankar said, implicitly declaring that India will do what it takes to safeguard its security without bothering about sanctions.
Jaishankar similarly pushed back at US’s taunt about the human rights in India, attributing it to American lobbies and vote banks.
“People are entitled to have views about us. We also are entitled to have views about their lobbies and vote banks. We will not be reticent. We also have views on other people’s human rights, particularly when it pertains to our community,” Jaishankar retorted in one of the strongest repudiations of the usual American lectures on human rights.
The riposte came hours after the annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices released by the US State Department on Tuesday, said among other things that government authorities at both local and national levels in India were “intimidating” critical media outlets through physical harassment and attacks, followed by secretary of state Antony Blinken’s statement that the US is monitoring “rise in human rights abuses” in India.
Jaishankar further added that the relationship between India and the US would not be affected by the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.