Contrary to all expectations, the Italian marines have returned to India for trial. After having formally announced that the marines will not come back, the Italian government has dramatically reversed its position. This suggests that the hardliners in the government — apparently the foreign and defence ministers — have been overruled by wiser heads.
Pakistan’s quest to acquire tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) has added a dangerous dimension to the already precarious strategic equation in South Asia. The security discourse in the subcontinent revolves around the perennial apprehension of a conventional or sub-conventional conflict triggering a chain reaction, eventually paving the way for a potential nuclear crisis haunting peace and stability in the region.
Our conduct at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at Geneva on the US sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka on human rights violations of the tamilian population has raised questions about the coherence, maturity and objectivity of our policy towards our neighbour. Our Sri Lanka policy has to be based on wider considerations than politicking within the UPA government and exaggerated posturing for electoral reasons by the DMK on the ethnic issue.
Pakistan’s former military dictator, Gen Pervez Musharraf, has ended his nearly five year long self-exile to return home to a tepid welcome by a handful of die-hard supporters and what was clearly a ‘rent-a-crowd’ bunch of people. While his return did have some news value, the sort of excitement on display on Indian TV channels was completely missing on Pakistani airwaves. Musharraf might make for good TV but to imagine that he is a serious player in Pakistan's politics is to stretch the limits of incredulity.
India has once again joined the US and other western countries to censure Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on the Tamil issue. This is objectionable on many counts. For many years we have fought our own battles with the earlier incarnation of the UNHRC on the issue of human rights violations of the Kashmiris at the instance of Pakistan. Organisations like the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the very same that are exposing Sri Lanka to ignominy at Geneva, targeted us relentlessly in the past as delinquents.
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, best articulated the sentiment sweeping through large parts of India in the recent months. Reacting to the resolution of the Pakistan National Assembly on Kashmir and Afzal Guru’s hanging, Jaitley said that “if India can be kicked around in this manner, there is something seriously wrong about our external policy”. If it were only Pakistan, once again resorting to its incorrigible irredentism on Kashmir, it could have been explained away.
The justice system in India is passing through an extremely difficult period, for which there are a number of reasons. Let us start with the basics, that is, the separation of powers. In this a very special position is given to the Judiciary which makes it totally independent of the Executive. This is most praiseworthy, but it would be futile to deny that the system is under stress.
The latest turn of events in the Italian marines case is most unfortunate for both India and Italy as the bilateral relationship is being put under serious strain.
The Indian side had greater reason to feel aggrieved by the cause of the crisis. Indian nationals were killed near the Indian coast, plainly without justification, by Italian marines.
A wise man does not venture into unknown territory, at least not till he has reconnoitered it thoroughly. Perhaps I am not wise because I am trying, through this paper, to venture into an area about which my knowledge is sketchy at best.
I do this not to pontificate on what India can do about Pakistan and Afghanistan, but to raise questions which, if answered by experts who know, may educate me and make me more knowledgeable. Many of the questions arise from how I perceive Pakistan, because ultimately what happens there affects both us and the Afghans.