Tuesday, October 08, 2002

First Dibs on Everything?

I didn't realize the United States, perhaps as a result of its War on Terror and the 9/11 attacks, had the right of first refusal on anyone suspected to have links to al-Qaeda around the world. Today's TOI has an interesting article by Siddharth Srivastava about the U.S. "thwarting" Indian attempts to extradite mafia don Abu Salem from Portugal.

"The US government is more comfortable with Salem in Portugal given the mesh of bureaucratic hassles as well as media attention that Salem will attract if brought to India, said the CBI official. The official said: "They want the first right over him. Once they are done with him, then only we will get our chance."
The three-member CBI team that went to Lisbon were surprised at the sudden change of attitude of Portuguese authorities, who till then had been co-operating with the Indian government, the official said. The US realised that it would not be diplomatically right to seek Salem's extradition as India has publicly declared interest in him," says the official. "Therefore, while the US desisted from exerting pressure on the Portuguese authorities to help India in Salem's extradition or deportation, there was a well-orchestrated behind-the-scene insistence of the FBI that Salem should remain in Portugal. Hence, the attitude of the Portuguese authorities changed overnight."

Srivastava also points out that part of the blame for the lack of U.S. pressure lies on the Indian government's strong declarations that Salem has ties to al-Qaeda, and lack of emphasis on Salem's role in the Mumbai bomb blasts. It is always interesting to see Indian officials try and exaggerate to get America's attention, and then of course, the exaggerations come back to the bight the GOI in the ass. India should realize that it is a state like any other and does not need the U.S., the UK, or anyone elses approval to act. Its funny, I think, that India can go it alone when it comes to issues of grave danger like nuclear proliferation, yet fails to act independently with such a small issue comparatively like the extradition of Abu Salem, a person who is suspected of causing great harm in Mumbai.


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