Nurses returning from Iraq: home run for MEA?

Like I did with that one-rupee coin that dropped off the ledge, the ministry should just pocket the credit for the ‘success’ and move on

shantanu

Shantanu Datta | July 4, 2014



 
So there I was, standing outside, smoking, when it fell in front of me. A one-rupee coin. I looked up, saw a pigeon flying off the building’s high ledge in a hurry, as if scared of me. Truth be told, I tried to move off faster – as fast as my big-fat body allows – lest it poop on me.

I looked up. Realising that the bird had had actually taken flight, and reassuring my good self that a fellow winged creature was not hiding (it’s a small ledge, so they have to sit beside each other, howsoever scrawny a pigeon might be – and, trust me, birds and strays are scrawny these days, thanks to inflation forcing poor humans to throw away fewer morsels of food), to drop some droppings on me and do a high-five with a third hiding pigeon, I bent down. And picked up the coin.

I pocketed it.

Back in office, I am told by news sites that the 46 Kerala nurses held ‘hostage’ by the militant group ISIS in Iraq would fly back home. A special aircraft would reportedly fly out to Erbil, capital of the Kurd autonomous region, later today and return with the nurses tomorrow (July 5) morning.

This is somewhat in contrast to the picture presented barely 24 hours ago by the ministry of external affairs (MEA), with MEA official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin describing the situation as one of "grave difficulty" (read our report here).

He was also asked whether the nurses have been taken hostage. Akbaruddin’s reply was as cryptic, shrouded in mystery and layers of unpeeled and obscure enigma, as was Churchill’s description of Russia’s action. "In zones of conflict, there is no free will and there are no norms. But we are in touch with the nurses and we will try our best to ensure their well-being," he had said.

That was yesterday, when he also said that the MEA did not know where the nurses were being taken from Tikrit – Mosul, as most reports on websites said long before the MEA presser and reported by this morning’s papers.

A Hindustan Times report on Friday (July 4), however, quoted a nurse, one Sona Joseph, who perhaps was not among those in touch with the ministry in New Delhi. “Our government wasted a lot of time. Now, they can send coffins to take us back,” the “sobbing” Jospeh told the paper over phone. “We were politely resisting their moves to shift us from the hospital but now their tone is different. We have no option but to obey them.”

When – and if – that airplane carrying the Kerala nurses land at Kochi, the MEA might as well claim it was just as lucky as I was with that coin. Yes, despite any backchannel talks diplomats might have had with the militants and/or their friends or intermediaries. And even if it had managed to pry any door ajar after "knocking on all doors, which includes the front doors, backdoors and trapdoors" to ensure safety of the Indian nationals.

Like I did with that one-rupee coin, they should just pocket the credit and move on.

 

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