"Historically Hindu India could never be trusted, they would adopt any means to achieve their ends. Very Sucessfully India milked Soviet Union till it's demise, now it's bleeding the USA. Pakistan must know that it's policy of appeasement would prove counter productive no matter what the government says. To extract anything from India, Pakistan will have to develop her policy independent of foreign influences." Raja Mujtaba

The smug faced and condescending S. M. Krishna must be smiling inwards that he got the better of his coy and suave counterpart. It has been India’s resolve to talk of developing and enhancing friendly relations through trade and tourism but let the core issue of Kashmir lie on the backburner.

By S. M. Hali

Prima facie, Pakistan’s youngest ever and first female Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, emanated exuberance, poise and confidence and proffered correct diplomatic nuances, but it is debatable whether her debut sojourn to India as the Foreign Minister can be dubbed a success.  Directly upon her arrival, the suave and well coiffured Ms. Khar took New Delhi by storm. However, it appears that the media showering accolades on her couture and style was actually a ploy. Irrelevant focus on her Jane Birkin handbag, Chanel sunglasses, her pearls and her diamond studded watch and rings led her to digress from the main concentration.

The 34 year young Hina Rabbani Khar or “HRK” to the Indian Twitterati, who were fawning over her, comparing her to India’s top hero “SRK” (Shah Rukh Khan) and other glitterati, was actually no match to the mild mannered but extremely experienced seventy-nine years old Indian counterpart S M Krishna. Despite the fact that she commenced her tour with a meeting with Kashmiri leaders from Indian Occupied Kashmir, who are fighting for their freedom, she made a pointed effort to avoid even once mentioning the “K” word during her ten minute long speech at the joint press stakeout at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi on July 27, following her formal talks with her Indian opposite number.

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No wonder that the Pakistan-baiting and RAW sponsored South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) gleefully reports: “Her softly-worded positive speech was in direct contrast to her high-profile predecessor Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s shrill remarks at a joint press conference with Krishna in Islamabad a year ago that wrecked the event. Khar’s non-mention of Kashmir in her speech was no oversight but a well-planned strategy by Pakistan as even the three-page Indo-Pak Joint Statement did not mention ‘the core issue of Kashmir’, though the document did acknowledge that the two sides discussed Jammu and Kashmir, among other subjects.”

The smug faced and condescending S. M. Krishna must be smiling inwards that he got the better of his coy and suave counterpart. It has been India’s resolve to talk of developing and enhancing friendly relations through trade and tourism but let the core issue of Kashmir lie on the backburner. Some analysts may see it as a victory of sorts that Ms. Khar got to talk to the Kashmiri leaders before her formal meet with the Indian External Affairs Minister and that India is willing to talk about Kashmir among other issues. However, such myopic analysts must see the broader picture that India gave mild concessions, without committing itself on a single major Confidence Building Measure. Even Syed Ali Gilani, who was allowed to travel to New Delhi to meet Ms. Khar at the Pakistani High Commission, was immediately put under house arrest on his return, indicating that the ordeal of the reign of terror for the Kashmiris continues unabated.

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The Indian media commented critically on its own government’s gesture of permitting Ms. Khar to meet the Kashmiri leaders; they said that how would Ms. Khar feel if an Indian leader had gone on a formal visit to Pakistan and asked to meet Baloch insurgents before the formal talks. Ms. Khar, amidst all the adulation showered upon her, failed to notice two major developments, which were reported in the Indian media. Firstly, the Indian air force chief issued a really provocative statement a day before talks with no reference to the context that ‘in case Pakistan launches a nuclear attack on India’, it would face severe retribution.

Secondly, the Indian Defence Ministry announced that it was opting for 189 state-of-the-art fighter aircraft at a cost of $20 billion among other high ticket defence purchases. Both these statements spell out the real intentions of India, which is willing to make cosmetic concessions but not disturb the status quo on Kashmir and other burning issues like water and terror. On a separate note, Ms. Khar could have avoided the vulgar display of her riches through her couture and style; after all she was representing an impoverished country, where a majority of the population goes to sleep hungry, whose economy is tottering under the burden of debts and which some pessimists liken to a failing state. She was visiting India as a foreign minister and not an icon of the glitterati or show biz. Pakistan, at this critical juncture needs pragmatic leaders to bring it out of the morass we are in and not paragons of beauty and models for the catwalk flaunting their riches in the face of havenots.

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