Our beloved Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had to take a bitter pill due to the actions of his not-so-equally diligent subordinates who committed a blunder in the list of most-wanted terrorists given to Pakistan.
Mr. Chidambaram usually loves bombarding ‘poor reporters with his intelligence, poise and sheer professionalism, however, this time he was at the receiving end.
Mr Chidambaram has put up a brave face before media despite being upset with the blunder committed by the investigating agencies, which function under his Ministry. What seems to have annoyed him is Pakistan’s rejection of the most-wanted terrorists list, saying India must first ascertain the veracity of its claim.
It is not very often that you find PC, as he is endearingly addressed by friends in media, on the back foot. On the contrary, our Home Minister, who is a qualified lawyer and an excellent orator, loves to hit back at the reporters who try to be smart while mak
ing comments about his ministry or asking questions on internal security.
PC, whose performance as the Union Home Minister has earned him the tag of being the best of all those who had served the ministry, usually comes with full rehearsal and proper statistics to back his claims.
Mr. Chidambaram, who is known for his habit of going into the minutest details of things, has undoubtedly made India safer than before and a heightened security mechanism, improved coordination among various agencies and decline in terrorist activities are a firm pointer to this.
There remains no doubt on his integrity and his determination to make India competent, strong and capable of tackling any threat to its internal security and empowering our investigating agencies to be able to foil any terrorist designs without much collateral damage.
So, one wonders why the Home Minister faltered this time and why such a ‘blunder’ in sending the names of two of the fifty most wanted terrorists to Pakistan without proper verification occurred, when the men in question were actually in Maharashtra.
Is this a systemic failure or this is the way government ministries function in India?
Whatever one says, this has undoubtedly made India a laughing stock in front of the whole world and given Pakistan a tool to sharpen its attack on New Delhi on the pretext of the error committed by the Home Ministry.
The government of India has been exchanging several important dossiers with Pakistan, supposedly containing the list of persons wanted in either of the countries, and has been trying to garner international support to put more pressure on Islamabad to fulfil its commitment on war on terror.
India’s effort in getting Pakistan to assume its responsibility in failing to contain terror operators have assumed significance in the wake of increased US pressure on it after the Abbottabad raid and Osama bin Laden’s killing in a covert CIA operation.
At this juncture, a blunder on India’s part in sending unverified details of wanted persons, is likely to jeopardise its diplomatic hobnobbing effort in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
The Home Minister’s guilt admission has also exposed to the world, the casual attitude of our investigating agencies, or the sluggishness on part of the Home Ministry in such a sensitive matter.
However, the Home Minister’s statement taking full responsibility came only after a second error was identified and reported by media. Otherwise, Chidambaram had first blamed the Intelligence Bureau for the lapse when the first case was reported.
Taking corrective measures, the government has announced that a revised list will now be sent to Pakistan and the CBI has identified and suspended some scapegoats to shift the blame from Chidambaram.
Like always, those sitting at the highest echelons of our society and enjoying a VVIP status have been spared of being accountable for their sins and once again, the juniors have sacrificed themselves for saving their masters.
The intense media reporting of the matter has left every Indian ashamed and lamenting about the lack of seriousness and incapability of our investigating agencies, which should have shown extra restraint in preparing such a sensitive list.
And after two blunders, can the Home Minister or anyone, give a guarantee of sorts that something similar will not happen in future? If God forbid, another goof-up occurs, will this not amount to India losing its claim that Pakistan continues to provide a safe haven to terror operator?
It seems that we have coined the term “systemic failure” to shirk our responsibilities for failing in sensitive matters. Is it not time that our leaders and various government agencies be extra cautious while dealing with the matters related to country’s pride and security?
The terror list goof-up is surely a lesson for our workaholic, competent and honest Home Minister, who appears to be fully dedicated to his job. If he remains careful and ensures that his ministry and various agencies stick to minutest details, it would be a face saver for the ruling UPA government, which is microscopically observed by an unrelenting Opposition and an unruly neighbour.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)