Monday, April 9, 2012

Diplomacy is More than just a Great Lunch/Power & Politics/ The Sunday Standard, April 8, 2012

India must realise that Diplomacy is more than Just a Great Lunch

When it comes to Pakistan leaders, India chooses to forget that country’s blood-stained politics and deathly diplomacy. Our fawning political leaders and cultural czars compete with each other in portraying visitors from Pakistan as our only hope for peaceful co-existence. President Asif Ali Zardari’s first trip to India with his son Bilal is billed as a turning point in Indo-Pak relations. South and North Block mandarins have been spending sleepless nights over the 20-hour visit of a head of state who has no control over even the geographical boundaries of his presidential palace. None of them were aware of the agenda or direction of discussion between Manmohan Singh and Zardari. The joke doing the rounds in South Block is that the discussion points for any meeting with a visiting dignitary from Pakistan can be found in the manifesto of political parties. The covers change during each election, but the contents remain the same. The Indian Prime Minister and Pakistan’s President have met over a dozen times in the past nine years. The venues may have changed. So have the costumes. But Pakistan has never delivered on the promises its leaders make to India. On the contrary, Pakistan-sponsored terrorists made Indian cities their killing fields, with Zardari and his army extending them safe haven. It would be an irony if India expects results from the visit of a person against whom the local judiciary has opened up many fronts, and is seen as the unauthorised occupant of an office which he doesn’t deserve and from where he can be ejected any day without fuss.

India is known for treating her guests as representatives of God. Zardari represents a country that does everything the Almighty never preaches. There are many in India who believe he represents the US which keeps him in power. Zardari’s visit makes a great event for those who are building castles of peace in sand dunes on the border, but in reality, is only a purposeless picnic by a powerless President of a failed state. Yet, Pakistan has many people in India who speak for its cause and interests.

Zardari is entitled to make a religious trip to any part of India. The government is expected to extend all the courtesies, which a visiting head of state deserves. But the government has nothing to gain by legitimising and raising expectations from the visit of a leader who can’t speak his own mind, leave alone deliver on anything. If key Union ministers and officials holding sensitive posts are in attendance for a one-on-one meeting, the country expects some tangible results. Already peaceniks and US-sponsored opinion-makers have declared that the visit would reduce the trust deficit between the two countries. If the track record of the Zardari regime is any indication, India would be wasting its time and energies on hosting a captive President. His government refuses to acknowledge the existence of terrorists and terror camps in Pakistan. It questions the meticulous evidence provided by the home ministry against Hafiz Saeed and his accomplices in carrying out the 26/11 terror attacks in which 166 people were slaughtered. It refuses to hand over 20 other fugitives responsible for murdering hundreds of innocent people in various parts of India.

Pakistan has been in denial for the past three decades. Undoubtedly, the country and its elitist establishment lay out the best of cuisine and seductive ambience to all important leaders visiting from India. They engage mehmans from Hindustan in 12-course dinners where music lasts till dawn. They send them home with expensive gifts. The same hosts also have powerful connections in the Washington establishment. Their only mandate is to manufacture confidential measures whereby Pakistan gets away with its murderous machinations against India while we keep living on false hope. There is no doubt that a politically stable and economically strong Pakistan is good not only for India but for entire Asia. The majority of Pakistanis would like to live peacefully and prosper but they have been suffering a military leadership that survives and thrives only on a hate-India agenda. On the other hand, the Indian leadership first talks tough following a terror incident only to later become a nation of peace lovers.

A luxurious lunch will not persuade Zardari or his controllers in Pakistan or elsewhere to dismantle the instruments and institutions of terror and hate. On the other hand, a red carpet rolled out for him by the Indian establishment will weaken his position further. In good diplomacy, results are never achieved through widely publicised luncheon meets. They are gained through hidden means and methods. India is yet to acquire and master that art. Pakistan has lost two wars, but it keeps chalking up decisive victories in the game of deceptive diplomacy. Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

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