Opinion and Editorial

Follow-up job

Filed on April 8, 2007

TEHERAN and London need to show political maturity – that has been missing from much of the international geo-political equation of late – to follow up amicably on the win-for-diplomacy that ended the two-week saga over the captured British sailors.

But somewhat unnervingly, the British government’s focus on the minuses of the prisoners’ captivity, drawing the inevitable tit-for-tat from Iranians, is threatening to fast erode the potential for further diplomatic engagement, reducing the effect of the precedent to naught.

Considering that the negotiations not only melted the ice that the border-violation charge had triggered, but also quickly diffused (to a large extent) very serious speculation about a possible American-led strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, one would urge the Blair dispensation to focus on the plusses that can be pounced upon for a smoother road ahead. And going by the direction taken for much of the last few years, a political row to nowhere will do nobody any good. Arguably, it is the uncompromising and inflexible foreign policy of the West (read US and UK) that is responsible for the unprecedented death and destruction in the Middle East region.

Now, with civil and political circles in both the US and UK also calling for debated and pragmatic ways out of the numerous quagmires their combined leadership has landed them in, both Blair and Bush are simply adding to their increasingly unrepresentative positions. Nancy Pelosi’s bold initiative to tour the Middle East despite stern White House warnings is indicative of the overwhelming sentiment in favour of a marked change of course. Yet, for the two leaders to stick to their long-help positions defies logic, and more importantly, betrays utter disregard for on-ground realities, both local and international.

It is pertinent to note that, if true, the British sailors’ tales of torment cannot be easily brushed under the carpet. But keeping prisoners in isolation is not entirely unprecedented. And governments with recent track records of unbelievable torture and misconduct with regard to prisoners do not exactly occupy the moral high-ground when they play up such episodes. That is so especially when the move serves few purposes save further agitation in an already volatile situation.

Therefore, before it is too late, all parties concerned must admit the scope for diplomacy to salvage whatever is possible, and turn to it with unrelenting force.

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