Thursday, June 19, 2014

Getting Them Home

Just a few quick points on the Indians trapped in Iraq. This morning I tweeted, asking this question:

 Apparently, some geniuses thought I was asking why the Prime Minister wasn't personally standing on the ground in Tikrit stopping ISIS's advance. Others wondered if I was serious about launching an Entebbe-style rescue operation to get the 40 kidnapped Indian workers in Mosul.

No. That's not what I was asking. If you seriously thought I was advocating for a Prime Minister to go to a war zone, you're the idiot, not me. And the less said about our incapability of launching an Entebbe-like raid the better.

So, please pay attention to the words. I was asking why we haven't seen the same 'personal supervision' here with as many as 10,000 Indian lives at stake. And I was asking about 'evacuations', not rescue operations. Mr Modi set very high expectations as Chief Minister through his determined actions. So far (as of 12:35 pm on 19th June) he hasn't even tweeted once about the 10,000 Indians trapped in Iraq or plans to bring them home. That's odd for a leader who has often been praised for his masterful communications; and odder still for a man who took the lead in supervising evacuations of thousands of pilgrims (the exact number remains in doubt) one year ago.

In fact, it's been 8 days since ISIS captured Mosul and we have yet to see mass evacuations of any kind begin. Ironically, India has perhaps the world's best record of mass evacuations from warzones: 
- Back in 1990, Air India set a Guinness World record for evacuating 111,711 Indian citizens from Kuwait, Iraq & Jordan, operating 488 flights over 59 days, during the 1st Gulf War.

- In 2006, the Indian Navy and Air India teamed up to evacuate 2,280 people, including several Nepali and Sri Lankan citizens from the fighting between Israel and the terror group Hezbollah.

- In 2011, Air India and the Indian Navy teamed up once again to evacuate some 19,000 citizens from war-torn Libya.

- Just this month, this same government made excellent arrangements to evacuate 1,000 Indian and other South Asian students from war-torn Eastern Ukraine.

The expertise of many who served in 2006, 2011 (and certainly 2 weeks ago) are still at the government's disposal. I'd wager that at least some of those who were involved in 1990 are still in a position to at least advise the current government. So why haven't we seen any movement yet? The fighting was never an excuse in previous situations.

If we are serious about evacuating our citizens, let's get it going. But please, let's not have utterly rubbish comments such as 'Why should we bother about them if they did it for money?' or 'They went there of their own free will.' 

One Modi supporter (who has requested that I remove her name from this post because her tweets were protected) made the following comment on Twitter: "I don't know what mass evacuations @PierreFitter is talking about, coz my limited knowledge says only 100/ 100k Indians are in insecure areas"
Well [name redacted], ISIS is now less than 50 miles away from Baghdad. We have 3,000 Indians in that city. Why are they still there? Surely, the idea of an evacuation is to get them out of harm's way BEFORE the fighting begins.