This article was originally published in the Express Tribune, here
After the recent brouhaha over cricket diplomacy, it looks like India-Pakistan relations have again slipped into their comfort zone of allegations and counter allegations.
Last month, as I saw Manmohan Singh and Yousaf Raza Gilani in Mohali, I was reminded of David Grey’s song “This year’s love had better last.” But then, in typical Ross and Rachel-esque fashion, statements by our diplomats have begun to resemble “We were on a break” and “No, we weren’t”.
The fact that Osama Bin Laden died only complicated matters. Soon after the news of Bin Laden’s death spread, Indian news channels went into overdrive. Predictably enough, Indian media contemplatedconducting similar operations in Karachi to capture Dawood Ibrahim. The common explanation given was “if America could do it, so can we”. May be its just me, but it’s amazing that how insane levels of stupidity can pass off as ‘analysis’ these days. Firstly, even if India had the capability to conduct such an operation, the loss of secrecy due to the media coverage would render it ineffectual.
Secondly, it amazes me how India’s middle classes can be so dismissive about Pakistan. Surely, a country with a 5,00,000 strong army, a relatively advanced air force and most importantly, a sizeable nuclear arsenal is not going to make hay while Indian helicopters hover around Clifton and Defence. America still had the foreign aid card with which it could afford to carry out such an audacious operation. But what do we have? Diddly squat!
It really amazes me how we take the concept of war so lightly. Maybe it’s because the present yuppie generation has never seen a war. Sitting in their air conditioned houses, war seems more like an issue of testosterone rather than blood.
What the Indian media has forgotten in this whole fracas is that the operation to kill Osama was itself illegal and in violation of international laws. Not only did it undermine the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan, there was no trial against Osama. I could go on about the inconsistencies of America’s blundering foreign policy, but I shall leave that to the real experts like Noam Chomsky who had an excellent take on the whole issue.
Anyway, coming back to India, the media circus was soon followed by India’s foreign ministry when it sent the list of the alleged ‘50 Most Wanted’ criminals. The list included the predictable choices like Dawood Ibrahim and Hafiz Saeed, along with several officers of the Pakistani army. Now I am not absolving any of these gentlemen of their alleged crimes. Naturally they should be brought to justice. However, what irks me is the in-your-face crudity with which the demands were made. It seems that the list was not made with the intention of its stated objectives; it was rather an attempt to pre-empt the jingoists at their own game. The government probably wanted to allay fears that it was not a ‘soft state,’ and it was prepared to deal firmly with terrorism.
Real diplomacy is seldom carried out by making grand announcements; instead, it is a result of careful and secretive planning at the lower levels. By all means, India should ask Pakistan to properly investigate into this matter. But, it should use more tact. We should get out of our self-righteous shells and realise that our ‘Big Brother’approach is generally not well received by any of our neighbours. It is our inconsistent approach which nullifies any goodwill that we might have earned due to the much hyped cricket diplomacy. The sooner we learn this, the better.