Sunday, June 14, 2009

Stagnant Policy ...

Though the content in each of the letters is different, the intent in all these letters was the same – how long is our foreign policy going to remain as stagnant as this?

Take the latest instance. From the day Mumbai was attacked, day in and day out, we were told that we will not talk to Pakistan. And then suddenly, we hear news that our Prime Minister might meet Pakistan’s President next week in Russia. And that too at a time when Pakistan released the mastermind behind Mumbai and many other terror attacks.

When I first heard the news of Hafeez Saeed’s release, I thought it was the court’s fault and maybe we should not blame Pakistan for it. But when
I read the reason for this release, I was plain baffled.

After detaining a person, the police is supposed to let him know in 15 days explaining why he was detained. Can you believe that the government did not follow this rule, and therefore he was let off!!!

Here’s more shocking news. When the notice was served finally, there were no specific charges mentioned against Saeed in it. The notice talked about the UN ban on Saeed’s outfit, JuD (formerly LeT) had links with Al-Qaeda and… that’s it! Nowhere was a mention made that JuD is involved in Mumbai attacks.

And here’s the most shocking news of all. The court then asks the government lawyer, has the Al-Qaeda been declared a terrorist organisation in Pakistan, and guess the answer – NO!!! The Court therefore held that LeT having link with Al-Qaeda is not an offense! Read the full story on
rediff here.

And we are willing to talk to this country at this juncture! We have neither bought this glaring glitch to the notice of those who can pressurize Pakistan, nor have we been able to achieve anything substantial in limiting Pakistan’s role in terrorist activity. That country is burning now, and every blast in that country is of its own doing. This is the moment when we try to impress to the whole world that Pakistan is itself responsible for the chaos. Yet, somehow we miss that opportunity.

Instead, we are told that we accept the reality and are willing to pursue the path of dialogue. Why don’t we just accept the reality that there is no credible leader in Pakistan and we have to come up with alternate strategies? Why are we making a fool of ourselves by saying “we will not talk” on one day, and saying the exact opposite, literally, the very next day?

Our whole foreign policy in recent years has just centered on the Nuclear Deal and trying to please the US.
Read this article in The Hindu, on how so many of our companies have lost out business in Iran.

After so many years, I am still confused as to what our Prime Minister means when he says we will adopt a “zero tolerance on terror”. We have lacked a clear political direction in the ministry of external affairs. The show has primarily been run by the Foreign Secretary and the NSA, and by the time the new Foreign Minister gets a grip of happenings in the ministry, we would have missed another bus.

By the way, Outlook magazine has called the new External Affairs minister as the right man for the job because he is “suave, urbane and western educated”! Wow – when did job requirements get so simple?! I got a feeling of déjà vu after reading that – a la Shivraj Patil!