The situation would have been ludicrous if it had not been so tense-the sight of external affairs minister Jaswant Singh escorting three top-notch militants to Kandahar and to freedom, in exchange for the release of 155 hostages. The militants hands were tied behind their backs throughout the flight. But so, it would seem, were the ministers, if only metaphorically-there was, its said, no choice but to send him. "This was the endgame of the hostage situation and we did not want anything to go wrong-if we had sent a more junior official and there were some last-minute hitches, it would have taken time to phone back to Delhi for a reaction," says a senior source in the ministry of external affairs (mea). And the phone conversations might have been tapped anyway.
But critics argue that if porous phones were the problem, why then did they even bother with sending joint secretary Vivek Katju? "Why did they not send someone senior like Brajesh Mishra instead?" asks veteran journalist and Rajya Sabha member Kuldip Nayar.