India has expressed regret over the Western nations bombing Libya. India was among the few nations to abstain from the UN resolution against Colonel Gaddafi's government in Libya. These two decisions set the Indian government apart from other nations. This is not enough. India has a role to play if only it can muster the self-confidence and conviction to do so. Events have set India apart from all other nations.
Colonel Gaddafi's appointed Ambassador to New Delhi, Mr Al-Essawi, later defected from the Gaddafi regime to join the protesors. He was subsequently appointed the director of the protest movement insofar as Libya's foreign relations under the new dispensation were concerned. Mr Al-Essawi last heard was functioning from New Delhi.
This fact seemed not to have overly angered Colonel Gaddafi who had enjoyed good relations with a number of Indian leaders. He appealed to India to provide technicians to man his oil fields during the crisis. Given the security hazards New Delhi declined to risk the lives of Indian technicians.
From all these above factors it should be clear that India remains the only nation capable of playing the peace maker's role in the Libyan crisis. Why is New Delhi hesitating? It has already regretted the bombing of Libya by the West. Surely if an agreement can be achieved to end bloodshed it should be attempted.
There are two parameters within which New Delhi would need to make the attempt. Violence must end. And change must be ensured. That would call for a peace formula that allows Colonel Gaddafi to recognize reality and dilute his power akin to that of a titular head. It would call for the protesters to realize that a smooth transition would enable them to create a more viable and democrtic new system. It would also call for them to acknowledge that a ruler in power for decades allowed to relinquish office with some semblance of dignity would in no way substantively harm their cause. In other words what New Delhi needs is skillful brokering of peace by an adept interlocuting team capable of displaying tact and ingenuity.
Why cannot New Delhi make the attempt? If it has any ambition of playing a genuine global role it must first of all define that role. India is the largest and only credible third world democracy. It has a large multi-ethnic, multi-religious population that provides it with unique empathy with the peoples of the third world. And democracy worldwide is unstoppable if a stable world order is to emerge. That should indicate what role history is offering India. Is anyone in South Block paying attention?