Monday, January 23, 2006

The Whining Gets Worse

In a twisted manifestation of the inverted-pyramid story structure, the lead paragraph opens thus:
"As India continued its freeze on defense supplies to Nepal, the royal government has started procuring military articles from other countries, including China and Pakistan."
Sound like a story the leading news service of the world's largest democracy would run on the defense dilemma of its tiny neighbor?
You got it. The Indian media are up in arms over the way China, Pakistan -- and now -- Israel are supplying the Royal Nepalese Army.
The first 10 words effectively answer the prime question the 400-word story raises. However, the whining just gets worse.
For a while, India seemed confident that the Chinese would not "fish in troubled waters," to borrow a cliché enjoying currency down south. Despite all its bluster about being a stabilizing force in the subcontinent, Pakistan wouldn't dare challenge India on another front.
The Indians choice of words was consistent with their skewed logic. China, Pakistan and Israel were not on some fishing expedition. They were responding to – if the Indian reports are correct – the request of a sovereign nation struggling to bolster its defenses against rebels enjoying safe haven in, if not full-scale military support from, the very country making the loudest noises against third-country suppliers.
(Consider the discomfiture the Israelis must have felt at having been lumped together with China and Pakistan. But Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke amid the historic redrawing of the country's political equations his decision to float the Kadima party must have left few Israelis with the time or inclination to sift through the fine print.)
When Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran brought up Nepal in his strategic dialogue in Beijing recently, his Chinese counterpart counseled non-interference. Translation: Let Nepal be Nepal.
Confronted with reality, enlightened analysts in New Delhi are now pointing out how the three aforementioned countries were selling military ware to Nepal out of business considerations, not as aid as New Delhi had been doing until King Gyanendra seized full executive powers last February.
Hey, not so fast. What are we to make of that other story a few weeks ago that asserted Nepal owed India billions of rupees for the arms it had received before the royal takeover?
Then there's the question of Washington and London, the other two constituents of the axis of weevils that have squandered no opportunity to extol their consensus with New Delhi on Nepal?
Besides issuing perfunctory disapproval last year, neither western capital has said much about China, Pakistan, Israel or any other country stepping in to fill Nepal's arms void.
Just imagine the sleepless nights a lot of people across the southern border might have avoided had they been less hasty and ambiguous in announcing what eventually emerged as a formal arms embargo on the kingdom.