While Arafat is a terrorist, a corrupt leader and one who betrayed the Palestinian people of their homeland, in India he is seen as a friend and statesman.
In India we respect dictators and terrorists. We have maintained good relations with Arafat, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein etc. All these maybe necessary due to trade and other strategic concerns. But even when these people murdered their citizens or was involved in terrorist activities we kept quiet.
Arafat called Indira Gandhi his sister and Rajiv Gandhi as his brother. Arafat also had good personal relations with many Indian diplomats like T S Tirumuthy and Romesh Bhandari. Praful Bidwai even wrote an article about Arafat without a mention of his terrorist activities.
But for all this servility what did we get in return ? A public support for India’s position on Kashmir ? No. But still India votes in support for the Palestinian position in the United Nations. This position is consistent with the general policy towards Arab nations where we appease them without getting anything in return. (Yes, we have Indian workers in Arab countries, but it is an economic necessity for them as well)
So you would think that for all this service, the Palestinians would have a special respect for Indians and would treat them accordingly. So guess what happened when the Indian delegation went for Arafat’s funeral.
The Indian delegation, which reached Cairo to attend the funeral service of Palestinian Pesident Yaser Arafat, faced disappointment as it was not allowed a last glimpse of the man who symbolised Palestinian nationalism.
The delegation, led by External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh, could not pay floral tributes at Arafat’s coffin before a military plane at the Almaza airbase flew it to the Egyptian Sinai town of El-Arish en route to the burial in the West Bank. The reason being entry to the airbase was allowed only to heads of state and governments.
At the iron gate of the airbase, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Oman Foreign Minister Yousuf Bin Allavi, Natwar Singh, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPM leader Sitaram Yechuri and Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed stood side by side. [Indian leaders not allowed to see Arafat]
Yes, only heads of state were allowed to meet Arafat and the Palestinians would not waive that rule for their “special” friend.
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