What is the Government’s constraint

On the occasion of the fifteenth summit of the non-aligned countries in Sharm -el-Sheik in Egypt , the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan held a meeting. After 26th November attack on Mumbai this was the second meeting between the two countries. Earlier in Yekaterinburg(Russia) during the summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Council Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already had a meeting. On this occasion only, the announcement to start dialogue between India and Pakistan was made. On this occasion our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had to face a strange situation. In front of the journalists, addressing President Zardari he said that he wanted to make it clear that no talks would take place between India and Pakistan until Pakistan presents strong evidence that it had really taken steps against the people involved in the Mumbai blasts and the world is assured that some action is being taken. But his announcement became a comical speech and insulting too, this is so because immediately after the speech he had a detailed exclusive meeting with President Zardari. At that time this question came up that Prime Minister should have done either of the two things. Either he should not have given this speech and if he had made the speech than he should have been firm on it. But on one hand he gave this speech and on the other hand he not only had talks with zardari but he also made an announcement that in Sharm el-Sheikh meeting of the leaders of both the countries will take place and dialogue will also be started between them. Whereas according to the Government of India’s official stand Pakistan has not yet started taking any action against the people involved in the Mumbai blasts rather many decisions show that it is not even bothered. In spite of this our Prime Minister held a meeting with president Zardari and not only this that he had a meeting but afterwards gave a clarification regarding his disputed speech. Guess what was his constrain.

After Yekaterinburg, in Sharm el-Sheikh situation became even worse from India’s point of view. Here in the joint manifesto which was released an unconditional announcement was made for the talks to continue between India and Pakistan and it was decided not to link it up with terrorism, on which allegations are still going on. Voices are now being raised against it within the congress itself. Anyway the opposition parties are opposing it. The BJP and the communist parties are criticising them strongly. communist parties have even reached the extent of saying that the Government is doing it on the directions received from America. Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s statement that India is interfering in the matters of Baluchistan has raised storm. During this time American Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton visited India. It is being told that America’s presence was also being registered in Yekaterinburg. Simultaneously statements from some America’s higher military officers have come out. This joint manifesto created such a hue and cry that even the government got tensed and government officials time and again kept giving this clarification that it has nothing to do with the government’s stand. this went to the extent that on one hand the Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said that this was bad drafting and Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor tried to wash his off the matter by saying that this joint manifesto does not have the status of a legal document. After all what is this all about? Discussion are going on in the ambassadorial circles too and government is coming in the line of fire. One more news is that the manifesto was made at the last moment and the Prime Minister’s Office is responsible for it. It seems as if government of India is in deep confusion and at a time it is facing pressure from many directions and maybe now it not even in a position to take a decision to present it’s interests in an independent way.

28/07/09 Editorial, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Asma Anjum Siddiqui

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