Not only did the Indian government let Musharraf’s insult go unpunished, it has ended up rewarding him ! Foreign Minister Natwar Singh has announced that Sonia Gandhi will accept the General’s invitation and visit Pakistan.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi may visit Pakistan accepting an invitation by President Gen Pervez Musharraf, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh indicated in Jaipur on Saturday.
“Soniaji has been invited to Pakistan and I hope a programme would be chalked out for her visit,” Singh said at a felicitation in the Congress office in the city.
“I believe that Soniaji would go to Pakistan where she would certainly receive a big welcome from its people,” he said.
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, Singh said, had visited Pakistan during the Indo-Pak cricket series and both had received a warm welcome there.
“You can imagine how big a reception Soniaji would get in Pakistan,” he added. [PTI/Rediff]
Whether this is right in itself is another question. But Musharraf invited Sonia Gandhi for talks over the head of the Indian Prime Minister. By accepting his invitation Sonia Gandhi has undermined her own government. The tone of his statement suggests Natwar Singh is reducing the External Affairs ministry into the publicity wing of the Congress party.
Both Manmohan Singh and Natwar Singh did not get into parliament through a popular vote – they are Rajya Sabha members. Shivraj Patil, the Home Minister actually lost the elections. While there is scant doubt that these gentlemen lack popular support, the institution of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet are all important in India’s democracy and are not something to be trifled with.
It is unlikely that the Indian government is playing a ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine; if it were so, it is playing it wrong. The ‘good cop’ has to be the one with authority. Vajpayee and Advani played this better; although Musharraf was able to exploit the moderate vs hardliner story to his advantage, for example by blaming the failure of Agra on the hawks from the Advani school.
Sonia Gandhi’s first mistake was her refusal to shoulder the responsibility she asked for and received. Her acceptance of Musharraf’s invitation is the second. All this within a month. The Acorn will stop counting now.
Related Link: Harish Khare suggests that Sonia Gandhi must not become an extra-constitutional player
Manmohan Singh’s iqbaal: The idea of iqbaal is rather indefinable; but every ruler can feel it in his bones whether his actions and words are adding or subtracting from his nizam’s iqbaal. It is a combination of the citizen’s respect for state authority, awe of its coercive reach, faith in its presumed fairness, presumption of its moral legitimacy derived from continued public consent, and admiration for the collective competence with which the Executive undertakes routine tasks of governance.
The new Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, would do well to remember that those rulers who find themselves unable to honour the requirements of iqbaal are dealt with rather harshly by history as well as by the voter. [The Hindu]