Firm stand counts in international relations : The Tribune India

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Firm stand counts in international relations

Firm stand counts in international relations

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo

Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd)

STRANGE are the ways in which politics plays out in international relations; nations use various methods to convey their viewpoint or send a message across. In July 2022, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kept his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin waiting for a minute as payback for the two minutes he (Erdogan) was made to wait by the latter in 2020. Erdogan’s gesture was also attributed to the clout he wielded, being the first leader of a NATO nation whom Putin had met after the start of the Ukraine war.

Way back in 1971, when then PM Indira Gandhi visited Washington to apprise world leaders of the genocide in East Pakistan, then US President Richard Nixon kept her waiting for half an hour; it’s no secret that Nixon and Henry Kissinger despised Indira for the strong stand she had taken during the developing crisis. Indira and India had the last laugh with the birth of Bangladesh.

The news of the Indian team being withdrawn from the University Games being held in Chengdu, China, because of Beijing issuing stapled visas to three players from Arunachal Pradesh underlines the use of sports as a geopolitical tool. It brought back memories of a similar happening a decade ago.

I was Assistant Chief of Air Staff at Air Headquarters in 2009-11 and the media was rife with the news of stapled visas being given to Indian nationals from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir who were going to China. The Chinese view was that since Arunachal (which they call South Tibet) is their territory, and J&K a disputed area, a regular visa would not be issued. Nothing could be a bigger lie and the government decided not to accept this political signalling and cancelled many engagements that required players from these states to travel to China. Both sides played this ‘game’ till Beijing, to paraphrase the name of a famous movie, took a step too far!

In July 2010, India’s Foreign Minister was to travel to Beijing in an Embraer aircraft of the Indian Air Force’s VVIP Squadron for meetings with China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Premier Wen Jiabao. As per the protocol, the Air HQ sent the passports of the aircrew to the Chinese embassy for visas. Normally, it is a routine affair, but on this occasion a message came back to me that the captain of the aircraft, who was from Jammu and Kashmir, would get a stapled visa! I spoke to the Joint Secretary looking after the protocol about this Chinese shenanigan and their embassy was told in no uncertain terms that the pilot would not be changed and the visit would be cancelled if a standard visa was not issued to him.

The Chinese blinked, underscoring the fact that in international relations, a firm stand counts. We must maintain this position for the forthcoming Asian Games to be held in September in China. Just watch, they will blink again!

#Russia #Vladimir Putin

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