The fact that New Zealand government has so far not issued any public condemnation of the unfortunate killing of 45 Indian troopers in a terror attack by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Jammu and Kashmir is raising a lot of questions on the manner it is treading in its foreign affairs.
This has come amidst rising concerns about emerging frostiness in relations with China – the largest trading partner of New Zealand – in recent times.
45 Indian troopers killed in the worst-ever terrorist attack
On Thursday, February 14, in the worst-ever terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir in last three decades, a suicide bomber rammed his SUV packed with explosives into a bus on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Pulwama district, killing at least 43 Indian troopers and leaving the security established stunned.
The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the horror and released a video clip of the suicide bomber, a 'commander' identified as Adil Ahmad Dar, which it claimed was shot before the young man carried out the strike in Lethpora, about 30 km from Srinagar.
World condemns Kashmir attack
The international community has strongly condemned the terror attack by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 45 CRPF personnel, with US President Donald Trump asking Pakistan to "end immediately" the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil.
"The US calls on Pakistan to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil, whose only goal is to sow chaos, violence and terror in the region. This attack only strengthens our resolve to bolster counter-terrorism cooperation and coordination between the US and India," Trump's Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
"We express our deep condolences to the victims' families, the Indian government and the Indian people for the loss of life in this brutal attack," the statement added.
China's Foreign Ministry on Friday also denounced the attack, hoping that "relevant regional countries will cooperate to cope with the threat of terrorism and jointly uphold regional peace and stability".
It added that the "JeM has been included in the UN Security Council terrorism sanctions list and that China will continue to handle the relevant sanctions issue in a constructive and responsible manner".
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the "brutal crime" and said that "the perpetrators and sponsors of the attack, undoubtedly, should be duly punished".
Putin reiterated Moscow's "readiness for further strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation with Indian partners".
The European Union in a statement said that "as a strategic partner of India, the EU reaffirms its full solidarity at such a difficult moment".
Saudi Arabia also denounced the "cowardly" attack and said it stands with India against terrorism and extremism.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said her country "remains steadfast in its support of the global fight against terrorism," reaffirming a resolve "to prevent radicalisation and defeat terrorism in all its forms".
Indonesia and Australia also slammed the strike.
NZ found dozing with no official response yet
However, unfortunately, the NZ government has failed to issue an official response and condemnation of the worst ever terrorist attack on Indian armed forces in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir.
While there is little surprise in NZ foreign policy mandarins and mainstream media failing to respond timely and cover the impact of this grave terrorist attack for obvious reasons (for long NZ foreign policy mandarins subscribe to the idea of treating India as a distant power out of their immediate strategic backyard).
However, this diplomatic-lethargy was least expected from the NZ government.
More so coming under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who takes enormous pride in kindness and compassion to fellow human beings, it is likely that many sentiments are going to be hurt within the Kiwi-Indian diaspora.
While managing relations with China – NZ’s biggest trading partner can be a bit tricky to handle for any new government in Wellington, given that it directly confronts with its traditional strategic partner the United States, there are no such compulsions in managing relations with India – except of course diplomatic-lethargy.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Office responded to the Indian Weekender's enquiry with a comment attributed to the PM stating, "As a nation we have, and always will condemn terrorism in all its forms. The terror attacks in Kashmir will have left behind so many bereaved family and friends. Our thoughts are with all of them at this time.”
Candlelight vigil planned in Aotea Square
A candlelight vigil has been impromptu planned at the Aotea Square today at 7 p.m. to allow grieving people to express their condolences to the victim of grave terrorist attack. People are being encouraged to bring their candles.