Rabat - The ongoing protests in northern Morocco started almost eight months ago, but they have their origin in nearly a century of violent repression by the state. The Rif has, in spite of itself, got involved into a peaceful revolt since the death of the fishmonger Mohcine Fikri at the end of October 2016, a...0
India Orders Internal Probe into Mistaken Use of Morocco-Spain Border Picture
Hyderabad - The Indian Ministry of Interior on Wednesday ordered an internal investigation to find out how a picture of Morocco-Spain border was used in its annual report to show floodlights along the India-Pakistan border.
What is most embarrassing is that the annual report of previous years was tabled during the Budget Session of Indian Parliament in April 2017 without any verification. Morocco and Spain have a sea between them, but there are Spanish conclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, on the north coast of Africa that have a fenced and floodlit border with Morocco.
According to the Ministry of Interior or the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) report of 2013-2014, out of the 647-km long floodlit area, approximately 45 kilometers (km) was on the India-Pakistan border. This 45 km stretch was constructed under the current government led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Although an original picture of the floodlit area was available on NASA’s website, an incorrect picture was included in the controversial report.
What is appalling is that the Himalayan blunder occurred in an official document and tabled in the Indian Parliament. Protecting the Indian borders from Pakistan, China and Bangladesh is a more onerous task. But sitting in the air conditioned comfort of the offices of the interior ministry and including a fake picture borders on arrogance and height of carelessness. One can imagine how safe the common Indian citizen is with such a government in power in New Delhi.
The internal probe ordered by the Indian interior ministry may turn out to be another futile exercise, with a few officers transferred or suspended for the terrible lapse of correct border depiction. What clearly emerges is that the Minister for Interior Rajnath Singh has not done his homework properly. The wrong border identification could have picked up huge diplomatic rows. It is a different matter that India has cordial relations with both Morocco and Spain. But, it does not give any right to the officials of the interior ministry to cook up imaginary borders or steal borders of other countries and claim them to be their own.
The least the government of India can do is to own up the lapse, apologize to Morocco and Spain, and assure them that the blunder will not be repeated in the future. If real diplomacy is to succeed, fake pictures and news must be avoided at all costs. Diplomatic relationships are more fragile than glass. Hopefully, the government of India handles them with the much needed caution and care. Morocco and India share cordial relationship with strategic partnerships in many different areas.
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