Mani Shankar Aiyar is perhaps the only person who believes that “in (the last) six years, India’s status in the world has been grievously undermined” due to the Vajpayee government’s foreign policy. Expectedly, he latches on to the Pakistan’s recent annointment as America’s most allied of allies as the nadir of Jaswant’s and Yashwant’s stint in the foreign ministry; but dismisses Washington’s similar offer to India as ‘second class’.
Aiyar engages in clever word play while criticising Vajpayee for his decision to talk to Musharraf during the Islamabad SAARC summit, but still contradicts his own party president, Sonia Gandhi. At the recent India Today Conclave she said
“The Congress has supported the peace initiative by the Prime Minister. We stood by our belief that we should restart the peace initiative with Pakistan. Eventually, we are happy that the Prime Minister has listened to us. That initiative will be taken forward if the Congress comes to power.”[The Tribune]
And no foreign policy article by a Congressman is ever complete without reference to a jurassic concept called non-alignment. While it is questionable if non-alignment served India’s interests even during the Cold War, it was at least meaningful then. But the non-aligned movement is dead and consigned to twentieth-century history books. Geopolitically, India and the United States share commonalities of interest like never before. A neurotic revulsion to America, a hangover from the Congress’ non-aligned heydays, is an anachronism that India can ill afford in its foreign policy. Indeed, India has aligned itself with countries like Brazil and South Africa to get a better deal for developing countries at the WTO, but why should this be seen at the cost of geo-political alliance with America? The United States and its trading partners have blazing rows over trade, but that does deter them from following security alliances that serve mutual interests.
Vajpayee has taken a risk by talking to Musharraf before Pakistan renounced cross-border terrorism. But it is early days yet to conclude that this was a wrong move. The ball is ‘still in play’ – and dragging the issue into the rhetorical prism of the coming election is a bad move. On the US-India engagement Aiyar is totally out to lunch. The Vajpayee government has been sucessful in bringing the two countries into a slow strategic tango, considering six years is too short a time to close the distance created by four decades of non-alignment. Aiyar, like much of the Congress party is scraping the bottom of its ideological legacy only to come up with stale morsels that are clearly past their expiry date.
Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar launching an attack on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for not lodging any protest at the US-led attack on Iraq and Afghanistan, accused him of being “America’s puppet”.
Comparing the foreign policies of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government with the previous Congress governments under the stewardship of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, he claimed that India had lost the self respect and moved away from the 120 countries which were termed as ‘The Third World’.[The Hindu]
It appears Pawar would have been happy to see Mullah Omar hold sway in Kabul and India forever condemned to the third world !
Swaminomics: …alignment is far more important than the non-alignment that Cold Warriors talk of nostalgically.