Russia, Israel come into play
IN THE ONGOING war between India and Pakistan, some being fought via air strikes and mortar shelling and the rest in the domain of diplomacy, New Delhi can claim another victory, courtesy its clout with the UAE.
In protest against the invite to Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Pakistan has opted out of the 46th session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), being hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Abu Dhabi on Friday and Saturday, March 1-2.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (pic) told the joint session of parliament on Friday that Pakistan has let the OIC know that it cannot tolerate the invite to Sushma Swaraj. Earlier, on February 27, Islamabad had officially conveyed to the OIC its threat to boycott the foreign ministers' conclave if it failed to withdraw the invitation to Swaraj to be a guest of honour.
"I requested the UAE to review the decision but the UAE said that when we extended the invitation, Pulwama had not occurred," Qureshi told the Parliament on March 1. The UAE, he said, had made it clear that "it would be hard to retract the invitation".
Meanwhile, Pakistan and much of the world, including large sections of the Indian populace, were wondering about the riddles in which New Delhi has been speaking. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is otherwise very succinct and avoids subtlety, couched his words in riddles and Indians spent the last few hours wondering if he meant belligerence or benign.
"Aap toh laboratories me zindagi guzaarne vale log hain, aur aapme pehle ‘pilot project’ karne ki parampara hoti hai. Pilot project karne ke baad scalability hoti hai. Abhi abhi ek pilot project pura ho gaya. Abhi real karna hai, pehle toh practice thi.” (You people spend your lives in laboratories. It is a custom to first make a ‘pilot project’. Scalability is done after that. Just now one pilot project has been completed. Now we have to make it real, earlier it was just practice.) Modi was speaking to scientists, a community with a natural inclination for preciseness.
Meanwhile, Russia and Israel are now getting all over the issue. Moscow is coming into the play, and even as US President Donald Trump said American mediation was helping to defuse the crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin called up Modi to say Moscow was ready to help mediate.
India buys large quantities of Russian military equipment, but Moscow also has warm ties with Pakistan now. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as per TASS news agency, confirmed Moscow's readyness to mediate. Lavrov also spoke to Sushma Swaraj on February 27.
Robert Fisk (pic)
, who has spent a lifetime in the Arab world, covering the Middle East, said the latest spat between India and Pakistan was eerily similar to the way Israel acts.
"For months, Israel has been assiduously lining itself up alongside India’s nationalist BJP government in an unspoken — and politically dangerous — "anti-Islamist” coalition, an unofficial, unacknowledged alliance, while India itself has now become the largest weapons market for the Israeli arms trade," Fisk wrote in The Independent on March 1.
Fisk seems to be on the point as the Indian media has been crowing about how the IAF used the Israeli-made Rafael Spice-2000 smart bombs in its air strike on the Jaish camp in Pakistan. But Fisk, known for his expertise gained in covering the war in Syria and Lebanon, five Israeli invasions, the Iran-Iraq war, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Algerian civil war, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, the Bosnian and Kosovo wars, the American invasion and occupation of Iraq and the 2011 Arab revolutions, casts a cloud of doubt about Indian claims.
"The "300-400 terrorists” supposedly eliminated by the Israeli-manufactured and Israeli-supplied GPS-guided bombs may turn out to be little more than rocks and trees," he wrote.
India was Israel’s largest arms client in 2017. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Modi share a close rapport and have exchanged multiple visits. Experts have often warned about the natural convergence of ideas between the BJP and Israel's ruling Likud party.
Gandhian thinker Prof Apoorvanand often reminds audiences and readers about how Hindu nationalists have constructed a discourse about the majority community being a historical victim at the hands of Muslims.
Fisk reminded that Israel, India and Pakistan all possess nuclear weapons and said it was "another good reason not to let Palestine and Kashmir get tangled up together."
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