US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell resigned on Monday, paving the way for a political appointee to repair bilateral ties ruptured by the handcuffing and strip search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York last December.
Ms. Powell "announced in a US Mission Town Hall meeting that she has submitted her resignation to [US] President [Barack] Obama and, as planned for some time, will retire to her home in Delaware before the end of May," said a note on the US Embassy website.
Ms. Powell’s removal had been in the works so far after senior US and Indian officials felt compartmental thinking by US State Department officials failed to account for the broader political implications of moving against Dr. Khobragade in a dogged manner, said Government sources.
Not only did the US State Department buid up a meticulous case against Dr. Khobragade, they went to the extent of spiriting away her maid's husband and children to the US on concession tickets provided to the embassy.
Since then, the case has gathered its own momentum and the US legal authorities have once again approached a New York court after it had dismissed a case against Dr. Khobragade.
A political appointee as US Ambassador to India, it is presumed, will start with a clean slate without the baggage of having being involved in a ``pincer grip’’ type of operation to fix the Indian diplomat. He would not have a stake in defending or covering up for US State Department employees involved in the entire process, thus increasing the possibility of restoring ties to normal at a time when a new Government will take office in a couple of months, they added.
Till the Khobragade episode lead to the snapping of all bilateral contacts, barring visits by US State Department’s India points person Nisha Biswal and US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, diplomats of both countries would point with pride to the multiple number of dialogues taking place at the rate of nearly one a week. That has all but vanished. Also India has felt that the US has not really been accommodating of late over its concerns to widen the scope of talks into trilateral formats involving other major countries as dialogue partners.