Fernandes’ strip-search: Apology or Denial?

When in a hole, stop digging

American state department official, Richard Armitage, who is in India to discuss the possibility of India sending troops to Iraq, personally apologised to George Fernandes.

The American embassy however, has denied that India’s Defence Minister George Fernandes was strip searched twice at US airports. It acknowledged and apologised for certain ‘diplomatic procedures’ that were not followed.

Linking a denial to the apology has taken the spirit out of the apology. To his credit, George Fernandes and the Vajpayee government did not play up the issue at a time when India and the United States had to close ranks against jihadi terrorism. The US embassy is taking one too many liberties with Indian public opinion. Squandering PR capital over this incident is unlikely to benefit either the United States or India. With this controversy surfacing the same week as the appointment of Pakistani diplomat Javed Ashraf Qazi as the UN chief in Iraq it will require a small miracle for India to send troops to Iraq.

5 thoughts on “Fernandes’ strip-search: Apology or Denial?”

  1. There is no rationale for sending Indian troops to Iraq as nothing has changed on the ground.
    The benefits accruing from troop support in Iraq is unclear.
    It is far more productive to send Indian troops to support the elections in Afghanistan than to Iraq.

  2. IMHO BJP-led NDA govt didn’t take up the issue with the US b’coz it wanted to make India America’s lackey at any cost. That is it wanted India to be what Pakistan is to America today – a ‘slave’. If they had their way our troops would have been already in Iraq doing America’s dirty work. They should have taken up the issue with the USA then itself as George Fernandes was on an official visit and that means he was representing one billion proud Indians.

    As for the US it just can’t ignore us b’coz of our economic size. Look at China. Who is bothered about their human rights record?

    As for Ravi’s suggestion of India sending troops to Afghanistan, what has Afghanistan have to give us in return? Oil?

  3. To clarify, I meant a temporary effort to ensure elections are free and fair etc. and our troops have established expertise in this supporting our elections in all sorts of terrain.
    1) Enormous amount of goodwill will ensue in Afghanistan on top of the existing goodwill.
    2) This will also ensure that the influence of Pakistan which is increasing can be kept in check.
    3) A far higher international profile for India with the world focused on Afghanistan elections
    4) In addition, it should be possible to ensure participation in economic reconstruction in Afghanistan, Border Roads Organization, IRCON etc. which have showed their experience earlier in Iran etc.

  4. Ravi, I don’t think u r factoring in the security scenario in Afghanistan as it stands today. As the situation is not conducive there the proposed elections are being postponed or being considered to be postponed (correct me on this). We know Karzai’s writ runs only in Kabul and adjoining areas. We also know that the Afghans are a battle-hardened and a divided lot. We will have to tread a cautious path in order not to ruffle their feathers. So it will be a tough job for our troops to make sure elections are free and fair and that we don’t withdraw humiliated as it happened to our troops in Sri Lanka and if that is to happen, with that all the present goodwill will evaporate.

    To curtail Pakistan’s influence, I think our humanitarian and economic aid should continue do wonders. Then we have our movies – which incidentally is a rage with the Pakis too – which will continue to endear us to the Afghans!

    Participation in the reconstruction of Iraq should be more lucrative to our country. Oil on barter or below market rates??? Then that means giving into USA’s ‘demand’ – sending troops to Iraq.

  5. Pingback: Jivha - the Tongue

Comments are closed.