By Syed Talat Hussain
Anyone looking for an all-round good news for Pakistan should have heard foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar yesterday. The minister quite literally sounded as if the country had won the world cup of bilateral, regional and global diplomacy. She described relations with India as moving into a positive zone, issues with the US getting sorted out after the visit of secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and the troubled ties with Afghanistan’s maverick president Hamid Karzai becoming stable. While we understand the desire on the part of the minister to strike a positive chord and also appreciate the need for locating positive trends in our foreign relations, however, to talk of healthy developments without mentioning the tough challenges facing Pakistan on every front is to be unrealistic and, if the word could be allowed, propagandistic.
Nothing illustrates this point more than the recently concluded Saarc-summit’s most important development—bilateral talks with India. While the officials here have broken into the usual spurt of praise of the outcome of the talks, the reality remains unchanged. Indian prime minister on the one hand described his Pakistani counter-part, premier Yusuf Raza Gillani, as a “man of peace” and on the other declined to visit Pakistan till such time that Islamabad took concrete steps in tackling infiltration and terrorism. The euphoria over the most favoured nation status is also unrealistic because Delhi has linked trade with terrorism and in all its formulations mentions both these issues together as if these are inter-twined and as if Pakistan is the one that controls the reins of the terror problem inside India.
Kashmir issue, on which Ms Khar took exception when a journalist described it as a buzz-word, is still on the back-burner. While Ms Khar is quick on the draw to point out incorrect journalistic description of this dispute, she cant do much to change the way the India has manipulated the debate over Kashmir and stolen Islamabad’s diplomatic thunder on the score. Foreign minister Khar, like her predecessor, seems to be fond of accentuating the positive every-time she attends a major event. The habit is fraught with danger as realities boom back hard on hollow talk. Ministers should be speaking policy in the context of reality and not act as spinners.