Mainstream, Vol XLVI, No 19
Belated Response to US’ Arms-Twisting Tactics
Sunday 27 April 2008, by#socialtags
AS the country faces manifold problems heightened by the incessant rise in prices of essential commodities, an issue that the Opposition parties, notably the BJP, are going to exploit to the hilt to put the ruling coalition in general and the Congress in particular on the mat in the coming elections, what has come as a major and pleasant source of surprise is the MEA spokesman’s summary rejection of US State Department’s deputy spokesperson Tom Casey’s gratuitous advice to India that during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to this country early next week, New Delhi should talk tough with Tehran and ask it to suspend its uranium enrichment activities in line with the UN Security Council’s demands. Reacting to Casey’s comment, the MEA spokesman said:
India and Iran are ancient civilisations whose relations span centuries. Neither country needs any guidance on the future conduct of bilateral ties as both countries believe that engagement and dialogue alone lead to peace.
It is important that the genius of each nation living in a particular region is respected and allowed to flower to meet the expectations of enriching relations with neighbours.
Both nations are perfectly capable of managing all aspects of their relationship with the appropriate degree of care and attention.
He further pointed out:
The situation in the region has always drawn the attention of both the nations and it can be seen perfectly well that those have been managed through continuous dialogue and exchange of delegations at various level.
Subsequently both the Congress spokesperson and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee elaborated on the MEA spokesman’s statement with Pranab explicitly going out of his way to explain:
We tell the US, do not take on yourself the responsibility whether Iran was manufacturing weapons or not. Leave it to the IAEA, the designated authority.
US bullying is nothing new. It has been publicly trying to pressurise all countries, big or small, for more than sixty years, that is, ever since the end of World War II when it emerged as the strongest Western power displacing Britain from that position. However, its audacity and arrogance have crossed all limits since the end of the Cold War synchronising with the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.
What was new was the plainspeaking on the part of the Government of India. Such an open enunciation of its clear-cut stand, manifesting India’s independent course in foreign affairs, was long overdue. And what was striking was the support it drew from all sections of the political spectrum reflecting a national consensus in international relations that was not seen for a considerable length of time. Hopefully Washington should now realise that just because of the Bush-Manmohan bonhomie New Delhi has not turned itself into a banana republic.
One only hopes the rhetorical statement is matched by substance, words will remain hollow if they are not backed by deeds. Nevertheless, South Block’s belated response to Pentagon’s arms-twisting tactics is most welcome if only because it helps India to refurbish its non-aligned image in the Third World.
However, this should not be one-shot affair. There should be sufficient follow-up action to show that India is dead serious in its desire not to be regarded as a push-over by any state, including the sole hyper power flexing its muscles on the world stage at present.
April 24 S.C.