27 July, 2021

Haider, Not Quite Thither

Salman Haider's tenure as high commissioner to Britain saw a clear worsening of ties. How much of it was his fault?

Haider, Not Quite Thither

SO India will now have a new high commissioner in London. At the third in well under a year, this is change at prime ministerial speed. Ah well, we need someone to sit in that Rolls Royce and to stand before those NRI mikes. But Indian diplomats in London are beginning to see their relative redundancy, and so no doubt will His Incoming Excellency.

With Britain these days, diplomacy is dead. The choice of high commissioner to Britain that has recently been controversial is becoming largely irrelevant. You cannot have both Robin Cook and diplomacy. The last of Salman Haider's six months in London, cut to a quarter of the two-year term for which he was appointed, gave evidence of this new reality.

There are questions whether Haider did his bit. But beyond that is the question now whether anyone can do much even if they do their bit. It's the problem of trying to talk to someone who has shut their door in your face. The new non-diplomacy was in evidence at a dinner hosted by an NRI group. Cook was chief guest. Arrangements for the...

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