REACH OUT: US should respond to Iran's olive branch by removing sanctions
WHEN the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meets, many people turn patriotic. National and even sectional agendas surge forth. It is a global epidemic. That was certainly not why the world body was formed.
The United States president, supposed to play host to several world leaders on the sidelines of UNGA becomes a helpless victim of lobbies and pressure groups. This year, Barack Obama has been in serious conflict with the Congress and a "shutdown" of the national economy has begun.
Before his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week, Obama was pressured by the arms lobby, the jobs lobby, the nuclear lobby and the trade lobby. The two leaders could barely move forward on bilateral issues, save for a reinforced resolve to fight terrorism.
Manmohan was tutored on whether to meet his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, at all. Nawaz's own fate from his critics at home was no different. Hawks on both sides made things difficult.
True, there was a serious attack by militants in Kashmir that day, timed to vitiate the atmosphere so gingerly built up for the Manmohan-Sharif talks. But going by past records, the current Indian opposition, when in power, did meet Sharif within months of a serious armed conflict in 1999 and had invited Gen Pervez Musharraf to summit-level talks at Agra.
Neither Musharraf nor Manmohan have been given due credit by their compatriots for working out a ceasefire along Kashmir's Line of Control (LOC) that lasted four long years.