Will be back with a bang
Sir — It is surely not the energy levels of the Democratic Party that could prove bothersome to Al Gore in another contest with George W. Bush (“Gore opts out of 2004 presidential race”, Dec 17). Yes, there would be innumerable things in a replay that would not interest either party workers or the general American public — the inane debates, the lies and the abysmal lack of general knowledge of the two most famous leaders that the world has witnessed before. But the thing that would surely go against Gore are the specific advantages the incumbent president has gained in his years in office — the operation in Afghanistan and the humbling of Iraq. These two trump cards are likely to jeopardize the prospects of any other candidate in the run. Bush has not only managed to lever out all the other priorities of American existence, but has cleverly left both the operations hanging in balance, dependent on his return to office. Bush will be back with a thumping majority.
M. Chatterjee, Calcutta
Flight to freedom
Sir — The news that Anees Ibrahim had been deported to Pakistan by the United Arab Emirates coincided with the news of Masood Azhar, a top leader of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad, being freed from house-arrest by a Pakistani court. A little too much, possibly, for India to swallow in a single day.
As anticipated, a spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry promptly rose to the occasion, condemning the Pakistan government as a sponsor of terrorism. But who is he talking to' Only to the Indian press. It is like preaching to converts. India has no one but itself to blame for having choked all channels of communication with Pakistan and for refusing to have any kind of dialogue with that country. Had there been an Indian high commissioner in Islamabad, he would have at least lodged a protest with the Pakistan government and also carried the rest of the diplomatic community with him.
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US
Sir — There seems to be an uncanny similarity in the way the most-wanted men — M. Veerappan, Ottavio Quattrochhi, Dawood Ibrahim, Abu Salem and now, Anees Ibrahim — are escaping the Indian dragnet. Is there a pattern in this madness' The UAE, Malaysia, Portugal, Thailand, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar cannot all be wrong simultaneously. Why are these countries sheltering Indian criminals despite the knowledge that in the long run they could do a lot of damage on their soil'
Another thing. Look at the report, “Rocca holds talks, militants in custody” (Dec 17). The assistant secretary of state of the United States of America, Christina Rocca, personally visited Pakistan to supervise the trial of three militants who had allegedly planned a suicide attack on US diplomats in Karachi. But India’s senior leaders did not even bother to make a phone call to the UAE royalty, leave alone send a senior minister for the extradition of Ibrahim. Everything was left to the bungling Central Bureau of Investigation. When a senior minister could go to Kandahar along with the released terrorists, what problem did India have in sending one to fetch Ibrahim'
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — India will continue to suffer because of its shoddy diplomacy. It is really surprising that post-September 11, the UAE dared to deport a dreaded criminal like Anees Ibrahim to Pakistan without even informing India. Why has India not tried to raise a strong and collective voice of protest against these developments' If the US could seek to revenge crimes committed on its soil with ruthless aggression, why is India trying to project itself as a mute and helpless sufferer'
Vinit Malani, Calcutta
Sir — The blunt refusals of law-enforcing agencies in Portugal, Malayasia and now the UAE to turn in fugitives to India prove that nobody in the world takes India seriously. The callous attitude of our intelligence and law-enforcing agencies and the sheer incompetence of the home ministry when dealing with high profile cases of national interest are evident from the way they go hunting for dreaded and wealthy criminals without even their finger prints or latest photographs. Moreover, foreign countries view the Indian judicial system with suspicion because of its dismal record of convicting rich and famous criminals and of dispensing swift justice to the common man.
Still, the question that bothers is, why has the Indian leadership failed to bring American pressure to weigh upon the UAE' They should have guessed that the Arabs would not hand a Muslim over to India very easily' In a world where might is always right, India must develop the capabilities of its secret services to locate and neutralize the enemies of the nation, even on foreign soil and whatever the consequences. Henceforth, New Delhi should also support the democratic forces in the Gulf countries which seek an end to the rule of the sultans to reciprocate the snub.
Shivaji K. Moitra, Kharagpur
Sir — Anyone who dials 197, which is the directory inquiry service of the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, is greeted with “Aap ka call hamare liye important hai. Kripya pratiksha karen.” If the MTNL cannot find appropriate Hindi words for “call” and “important”, the office might as well replace the bombastic Hindi word — Kripya pratiksha karen — with two simple, soothing and practical English words: “Please wait”.
Omar Luther King, New Delhi