Like the rest of the world,Indians have plenty of reasons to ridicule or even vilify the outgoing US President George Bush. Bushs Iraq policy was a huge disaster and I will mince no words in condemning his unilateral invasion of Iraq. Mere suspicions of nuclear weapons in Iraqs possession provided the alibi for all-round destruction of this once-prosperous country. It remains no secret that the real reason behind the Iraq war was to secure uninterrupted supply from the bountiful oil fields of Iraq. Today Iraq is reduced to a land of anarchy with never-ending bloodshed.
If Bush is rightly blamed for the costly Iraq misadventure,he deserves equal applause for waging a tough war against Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan post 9/11. We in India have been an indirect beneficiary of Americas war. Had these extremists not been reined in by the US forces,they would have focused their attention to Kashmir and perpetrated indiscriminate acts of terror in other parts of India. Even Pakistan can thank Bush for saving the country from takeover by Taliban.
The signing of the Indo-US Nuclear agreement is yet another cornerstone of Bushs legacy to India. There should be no doubt ever that only George Bush could have forced this agreement through. Bush not only stood his ground in the US Congress to get the domestic bill passed,he withstood even stronger pressure from China and Pakistan to win the consent of the international community over for this agreement. Not many people know that Bush had often stayed awake till 2 am to call the heads of many nations,at a time of their convenience,as he sought their endorsement for the Indo-US agreement in the IAEA. India had never experienced such direct favour from the worlds lone superpower. The world looks up to India with a newfound respect today and we can remain grateful to our friend in Texas for that.
TERROR IN THE AIR
The arrest of Lashkar-e-Toibas operative Faheem Ansari by the UP Police is turning out to be a vital breakthrough in Indias fight against terrorism. Many of Faheems revelations bore chilling connections to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. He had already revealed that Mumbai hotels could be targets for attacks and that terrorists could come by the sea route. Ansaris latest admission that the next terror attacks would be targeted at Indias airports that has shook up the security agencies,which took immediate steps to secure entry and exit route access to all major Indian airports.
However,the security agencies seem to have looked over a crucial security loophole. The boundary walls of several major airports,including the ones in Delhi and Mumbai,remain dangerously porous and pose a direct threat to all aircrafts landing and taking-off from these airports. In Mumbai for example,a huge slum cluster exists right next to the airport perimeter wall. Standing on the rooftop of a nearby house,it is possible for any terrorist to open sniper fire or to shoot a grenade on a aircraft inside the airport. Such an attack can be easily prevented by raising the height of the perimeter wall to several meters,or by taking away the nearby slum clusters.
I am happy that Sukhbir Singh Badal has been appointed as Punjabs deputy chief minister by his father. As the father-son duo get ready to keep the charge of state government within family,I think it is high time that the Congress stops getting blamed for being a dynasty-centric party by all opposition parties,including BJP. As a matter of fact,no major political party in India today can claim to be free from dynasty-led organisation. The majority of NDA constituents are well renowned as dynasty-led parties,examples include Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh. There are number of prominent leaders within the BJP who have promoted their family members in politics. The anointment of Sukhbir Badal merely adds to the growing list.
The writer is a Rajya Sabha MP