Wednesday, July 27, 2011
HINA RABBANI kHAR IS BUILDING BRIDGES OR DISMANTLING
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Hina, foreign minister of Pakistan is here in India to make friends, to strengthen friendship between the two arch-rivals so that a new and relaxed atmosphere is created. An assured security will bring in prosperity; if prosperity comes, can Peace be far behind?
Hina has her task cut out. She knows it has pitfalls. She wishes to be a success when stalwarts like Zulfiqar Bhutto had failed. Perhaps it was a deliberate failure to gain mileage to rule Pakistan after whipping up anti-India emotions. Hina has a different road to travel on. Hina Rabbani professes that she is not carrying any baggage from the past. However, we should not forget that not long ago she was a member of the PML(Q), a political party that was nurtured by General Pervez Musharraf. This gives her an advantage too. The Pakistan Army, a force in political arena of the Islamic Republic, is on board with her. No more no less.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED
Hina has broken Zulfiqar's record of being the youngest foreign minister of Pakistan. Friend Zulfi was just 35 when sworn- in, in the General Ayub Khan cabinet. Hina has broken that record as she is just 34 and sitting confidently in saddle as the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Times have changed and much water has flown down the Ganges in India and the Indus in Pakistan between the years of Zulfi and Hina. While it must be conceded to the Truth that the two nuclear-armed countries are not yet friendly but multi-faceted plans and projects have been launched to give a semblance of peace and friendship. Achieving Peace Perfect may appear to be chasing a Mirage and both Hina and her Indian counterpart, Krishna know it.
Hina cannot wipe out the inimical feelings between the two countries in just one trip to New Delhi. However, her dialogues with the Indian leaders may reduce the level of animosity between the Saffron and the Green.
FAUX PAS ON DAY ONE
Hina Rabbani Khar met the separatist leaders of Kashmir on the first day of setting her foot on the Indian soil. Among those whom the Pakistan High Commission in NewDelhi hosted to meet the new Foreign Minister were the diehard separatist Gilani and pro-Pakistan Mir Waiz. Examining the event diplomatically, an astute diplomat would not hesitate to say that Hina Rabbani Khar should have met the Indian leaders first before seeing the separatist Kashmiri leaders and thus indirectly stoking the fire of unrest, violence and hatred for India. Allow me to call a spade a spade and say "Dear Foreign Minister of Pakistan, you have not put your best foot forward on the Indian soil and it has detracted from peace efforts being made by the two neighbours.
When the two erstwhile belligerent nations do sabre rattling more often than emit signals of Peace and brotherhood, every step that the negotiating leaders take should exude sweetness of a Rose and not bitterness of bitter gourd. More so when the leaders of India and Pakistan talking Peace happen to be Foreign Ministers of their respective countries. When the Pakistan Foreign Minister met the separatist Kashmiri diehards, the world was watching with powerful binoculars despite the parleys being held behind thick curtains of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. The not so subtle comment could be: Pakistan has Peace on lips but hidden dagger in hand to stab in the back. Well, does it mean that Hina is here just to pay lip service to Peace? In other words Pakistan is pursuing the cloak and dagger policy directly and not through its notorious ISI. Be that as it may Pakistan is committed to follow its own agenda and India has its own. Nevertheless, stoking the fire of separatism and promoting Kashmiris who advocate secessionism was certainly not the best diplomacy that Pakistan practised on the Indian soil.
Hina Rabbani Khar, your credibility as a negotiator for Peace on the Continent has taken a beating. The dent thus made in the image of the Peace maker would not be watered down despite all the charm that you exude through your good looks and perfect etiquette. Being a member of the landed aristocracy of southern Punjab and having received education in Lahore and Massachusetts, your art of conversation is above reproach. However, it is the wrong advice of bureaucrats and diplomats of yesteryears in Islamabad who still believe in fomenting trouble between the two neighbours. They have to be reined in.
Should the foreign minister realise the diplomatic faux pas committed in receiving and talking to the Hurriyat diehards before meeting the Indian minister, she may make amends by suitably advising those bearded gentlemen of the Kashmir valley to contribute to Peace and not indulge in senseless violence.
The diplomatic world will wait and watch how Hina and Krishna talk Peace in 2012 and what their achievements will be. The parleys should not be reduced to just a photo-op.
WHAT DID TALKS ACHIEVE
Frankly speaking the talks in New Delhi in July 2011 were an exercise in futility. The two ministers met, they smiled diplomatically and they parted with a promise to meet again. In the diplomatic language the talks were described as good because they were held in cordial atmosphere. The two ministers agreed to press on with confidence building measures like release of unwanted prisoners from Jails, increasing trade across the border and bringing the culprits of 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai to justice soon. Hina got away with the excuse that the legal system in both the countries is rather slow. At best the talks provided a good photo opportunity. That is it.
India seems to be a loser in not having succeeded in bringing the Islamist Terror to the table of discussion in a forceful way. There is no mention of Pakistan’s ISI providing support to acts of terrorism in India. Hina Rabbani Khar described our view of Terror as Dated. In other words what India complains is not relevant to today’s talks. She scored a point for Pakistan. Again, she justified her meeting the separatist leaders of Kashmir as reaching out to people in a democratic set up and her foreign secretary defended it as not being anti-India. Total rubbish their pleas were as they acted against India on ground and professed Peace on paper. No wonder Nirupama Rao, our foreign secretary admitted that she was not happy with the progress of peace talks between the two neighbours.
India should not have allowed separatist leaders to meet the foreign minister of Pakistan on the soil of India as it would give a boost to secession of Kashmir from India.
Well, all said and done, there is no requirement to meet leaders of the government of Pakistan if they are not prepared to discuss Terror and discontinue other measures taken by their agencies to destabilise India. Fake Indian currency is being printed in Pakistan and sent to India to disrupt our economy and we do not even mention it in a joint meeting like the present one.
The lack of will and effort on the part of India to press its points and make Pakistan listen to what we say only means that one of the Indian top leaders is angling for Nobel Peace Prize and, therefore, he is projecting himself as the Messiah of Peace and harbinger of tranquillity and prosperity. The facts on the ground speak otherwise. May I advise the said gentlemen to sleep in comfort as no Nobel Prize is likely to come his way.