Holbrooke not welcome in India
NEW DELHI: New Delhi’s doors, it appears, will not open anytime soon for Richard Holbrooke, US special envoy for Af-Pak. He has been frozen out of India yet again, after his recent statement that Indians weren’t really targetted in the February 26 attacks in Kabul.
It was a callous remark that was so blatantly aimed at pleasing Pakistanis that the Indian foreign office was forced to make an official complaint about it. Particularly, since it was evident from the beginning that the attack was intended to get India out of Afghanistan, and by Pakistan-supported terror groups. So when Holbrooke announced on March 20 that he would “definitely be going to India soon”, he got the familiar cold shoulder from the MEA. Holbrooke was supposed to travel to Kabul and Delhi in the coming days, stopping by in Brussels.
In the last year, Holbrooke has found that after such public displays of determination to visit India, his travel plans invariably dry up. In fact, after two such freeze-offs, Holbrooke stopped trying in 2009. It was in early 2010 that the MEA decided to let him come to India.
His visit, when it did happen, went off rather well, with Holbrooke getting face-time with everyone in the leadership, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
But his remarks after the February 26 attack on guesthouses in Kabul mainly used by Indians brought back the Indian distaste for the special envoy. Speaking to reporters in Washington soon after the attack, Holbrooke held forth, “I don’t accept the fact that this was an attack on an Indian facility... There were foreigners, non-Indian foreigners hurt. It was a soft target. Let’s not jump to conclusions.”
He added, “I understand why everyone in Pakistan and everyone in India always focus on the other. But please, let’s not draw a conclusion for which there’s no proof.” He rendered a qualified apology later.