I knew this from the word go but it is still worth a mention. Our idiot box lives up to its name with a bunch of idiots spewing a whole lot of nonsense and creating a hypothesis that royally confuses the general public. The Indian Prime Minister (PM) invited our PM along with the heads of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations for his oath taking ceremony. PM Sharif, according to these pundits, took the bait of his very crude, cruel and cunning counterpart and went to enemy territory without adequate preparation and homework. Newly elected PM Modi, according to these great analysts, handed a charge sheet to our PM and played a masterstroke both domestically and internationally. What a diplomatic defeat Mr Sharif brought back home, where people like these pundits were expecting a gold cup called Kashmir within 24 hours of his day or so long visit.
I know when it comes to sanity and level headedness, we unfortunately have a shameful dearth of such commodities. The people were expecting a Miandad-like ‘sixer’ from our PM and in return got a quick, cheeky ‘single’, so to speak. Now, for these impatient souls here, let us dig around for some badly needed reason and rationality, shall we? However, before I take readers to the valley of truth and reality, let me categorically restate my position: I have zero political affiliations with our PM and his party. If I am objectively speaking, it is not for any personal gain or favour.
Given the precarious position that our country is in, in my humble and perhaps flawed opinion, the PM did the best he could, under the circumstances. The hawks tend to forget, if our PM had declined the offer of his counterpart that would have given this ever-rocky relationship a very poor start. So, by heading to New Delhi, despite the opposition on the tube by some of the front men of the ‘hidden faces’, at least he demonstrated that he meant business, come hell or high water. Next, the hawks really had the ceremony confused to begin with. Typically, such events are meant for goodwill and mere relationship building. To expect any major breakthrough from an hour long discussion is rather farcical.
Besides, anyone on their home ground typically enjoys a distinctive advantage. So did Mr Modi. When you spend the very first hour with an absolutely new counterpart, there is mostly an introduction, a little social chit chat, a bit of build up on some of the main issues and then an understanding about a follow up discussion. This is precisely what took place in New Delhi between the two leaders. There is a lot of spin that our media is providing, giving the impression or a questionable perception that our PM appeared as a weak and ineffective leader — he did not present Pakistan’s case clearly to the Indians and hence wasted his valuable time and energies. Now let us reverse the scene; say, if Mr Nawaz had invited his Indian counterpart for a similar ceremony, our side would have played the occasion to its maximum advantage and would have reiterated its case in front of the visiting guest and the world.
Furthermore, both parties have had their respective grievances for a long, long time. Those issues, which span decades, could not be solved in 60 minutes, even if our PM had been on his home ground and turf. The two leaders agreed on foreign secretary level talks in the context of the now ancient ‘Lahore Declaration’. I had touched on the most practical and viable solution, very briefly right here just last week.
So, let us briefly touch on the root causes. We have to introspect very honestly and openly to expect a realistic outcome. Most of the ‘misadventures’ starting from 1948 came from which particular end and why? Has it dawned on folks that we have failed quite miserably politically, diplomatically, economically and above all militarily due to such half-baked endeavours? This is the harsh reality. Due to these follies, we have failed to build our case in front of the world on a diplomatic level as well. When you do the cost and benefit analysis of the pursuit and our so-called principled stand on disputed territory, may I add that we come out as utter losers?
There is no shame in admitting that we lost our eastern wing in pursuit of a flawed policy. Many people will find the two areas poles apart, but let us just imagine, had there been no frenzy about the ‘K’ word internally, we could have focused entirely on our domestic issues and wings with a totally different perspective. Civilians get a lot of flak for their inability to solve long-standing disputes but no one ever questions the real creators of this royal mess.
The facts are quite harsh: both countries have a laundry list of internal problems. Not to mention both countries possess two volatile regions, marred with unrest and lack of trust. Both countries use force to maintain order in their respective territories. The excesses and atrocities in both countries are downright shameful. Now let me ask the nightly circus-like clowns a very simple question: in a dream world, let us say, you may get what you shout for louder and louder on the tube but what are you willing to part with in return? I do not expect these overly patriotic and ultra-emotionally charged people to even understand the gravity and seriousness of this question.
The writer is a Pakistani-American mortgage banker. He blogs at http://dasghar.blogspot.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He tweets at http://twitter.com/dasghar