Saturday, March 26, 2011

Will Manmohan Singh's cricket diplomacy work?

If history is a marker to judge the future by, then the answer is a definite no. But if you, like me, believe that the future is as unpredictable as the toss that will decide who bats or bowls first in Mohali, then the answer simply is: We don't know whether cricket diplomacy will work or not.

It is indeed a commendable step to invite over Zardari and Gilani to try to kick start a stalled dialogue process. And it will also give Singh a chance to escape the heat of the local issues plaguing his government such as the allegations of graft.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
While there is no doubt that cricket itself stands to gain from the encounter between India and Pakistan on Wednesday, the diplomacy appears uncertain at best. Below are some of the incidents from history that show why cricket diplomacy has been a non-starter.

1. In 1987 Zia ul Haq visited Jaipur to witness a match between India and Pakistan which marked the resumption of cricketing ties between the two countries after 17 years of suspension. However, two years later in 1989 the freedom struggle in Kashmir blew out of proportion and the two countries were back to square zero.

2. In March of 2004 the Indian cricket team visited Pakistan for a series ending a 10 year drought. They were accompanied by Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. India's national security advisor at that time Brajesh Mishra also showed up at the Lahore fixture of the series. He was the one who had designed the declaration of Islamabad in which it was claimed that Musharraf had promised no part of Pakistan would be used for terror activities against India. But that claim was short lived as by the very next year, India was accusing Pakistan of harbouring ill-intentions.

3. In 2005 Musharraf went to India to watch the Pakistani team play in India. Manmohan Singh also watched the match and they both issued a joint statement stating that the "peace process between the two was irreversible". However in 2007 with Musharraf's exit in place, Pakistan and India's future prospects of thrashing out issues appeared bleak at best.

4. In 2009 Gilani and Singh issued another joint statement from Sharm al Sheikh in Egypt pledging to restart the stalled process. However by now it had become apparent that after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, India's distrust of Pakistan was at its peak, and Manmohan Singh did not have the support to initiate in any meaningful dialogue to improve ties with Pakistan. The Wikileaks cables showed that.

A clearer picture will emerge after 28th March when the home secretaries' from both sides meet to try to negotiate about the resumption of talks. Till then, Manmohan Singh can only hope for the best till he meets the Pakistani leaders at Mohali.


Zain said...

1987 Zia-UL-haq went to India, if we look at that particular visit, it was at that time to reduce the pressure which was considerably reduced after Zia went to India, as there were strong rumors that India is going to attack Pakistan. So mushahid hussain and A.Q.Khan issued a statement saying that we have built a bomb following Zia's visit. So that was a successful visit to the extent of its immediate effect

Hamza Malik said...

That maybe true but look at the broader perspective; cricket diplomacy has always failed. Yes this trip might help in opening up the roads to the composite dialogue, but will it achieve anything substantial? I think now. What do you think?

Saddam Bear said...

Cricket diplomacy only works when Pakistan wins.

Hamza Malik said...

I doubt the validity of your statement even if it is sarcastic. It doesn't matter whether India or Pakistan wins, the diplomatic crisis continues no matter what.

Saddam Bear said...

Real question because I really like your blog....

Why do Pakistanis still hate India so much?

Saddam Bear said...

It will continue until Pakistanis wake up and realize the Kashmir dispute is good for only Rawalpindi.

It will continue until Pakistanis and Indians finally acknowledge that the LoC is here to stay and a few mountain peaks aren't worth nuclear annihilation.

It will continue as long as the ISI helps send terrorists to kill innocent people

It will continue until Pakistanis and Indians realize that Kashmiris hate them both - and neither side has done anything but given them violence, brutality and 'mullah madness' ...

But mostly it will continue until Pakistan decides its not worth keeping your head in the sand and watching your entire country disintegrate and your people suffer just to keep hate for India alive.

"Cricket diplomacy" is nothing but a buzzword...

Hamza Malik said...

Actually, I like your approach. In fact, I actually quite agree with it.

Pakistanis do realize that Kashmir is a lost cause. It would just help if India accepted it cheated after promising a plebiscite.

Pakistanis realize the LoC is in fact a border. International border. Well the majority anyway. Extremists on both sides however, believe otherwise. Don't you agree?

Like ISI sends in its stooges to your country, RAW keeps sending its stooges to our country. It's like a disease, you punch me, I punch you back. Although that kind of makes sense. But the for the puppet masters in both countries, human life means zilch. So humans are as easily expendable as are cockroaches.

And your last two points? Couldn't agree more. You're right. Absolutely right.

But the thing is, and this will answer your why Pakistanis hate India so much, keeping up the "we all hate India" charades fulfils the objectives of the Pakistani establishment which has got an extremely powerful hold on all the policies being formulated here.

When you keep up this charade, the army maintains its supreme power; by aligning the nation's sentiments against India, it can usurp all resources in the country because "it has to defend the country".

That is the ideology. Pakistanis don't hate India too much. In fact, the majority are in awe of India. But there will always be a minority who will hate India; just like there are people who hate Pakistan in India. When propaganda feeds you that ISI is responsible for all terrorism in India, propaganda on this side of the border feeds us that India is hell bent on destroying us.

Yes. It is that simple.

Saddam Bear said...

A rational India-Pakistan discussion... Wow :)

I agree with everything you said, except that I think you overestimate RAW. I am pretty sure the Balochs have their own reasons to be pissed off...
And yes we have those Hindutva assholes, which I can't deny... as bad as some of your mullahs.

But the thing that I think that Pakistanis sometimes don't get is that you think its proportional - you hit us, we hit you.
Its not. Your government does us so much more harm, and with so much more malice

Think about everything wrong you think India has done to Pakistan --- I don't know what you think obviously but I imagine its supposed support for Balochs, us constantly being in your face in Afghanistan, or the fact that we can often be bullying and uncaring of legitimate Pakistani wants --- I don't imagine you believe the stupid conspiracy theories that RAW funds the Taliban and the TTP --- because that 100% courtesy of your own wise masters.
If there are others, by all means let me know...

Now compare it to what Pakistan does to India - openly supported an insurgency that killed tens of thousands of people,
Some (if not many) of the terrorist attacks in India are done with the support of the ISI -- if only (and I am being charitable) that it just looks the other way --- and that is a big deal - its one thing for a group of assholes to decide they want to kill innocent people for nothing, its another when a government allows it
Then how many times has your ISI and Army all but declared war on us --- I imagine most other countries take attacks on parliament, attacks on embassies and a full-scale covert mini-war in Kargil ---- as essentially acts of war
And with the real wars - there is plenty of blame on both sides - but the point is it was never India that attacked first - except 71 and then your army was doing some pretty terrible shit to those Bangladeshis (not to say we didn't have obvious ulterior motives... but still)

Think of what any other country would have done if Pakistan did any of those things to them - forget the US or Israel --- imagine Iran or China or anybody else -- imagine how they would react, and then compare it to how India reacts every time - we never actually attack you back - we threaten, we shout but we never actually attack you..
And that earns us not one single point -- if anything it just provokes more

And for what? I don't deny that India has made a lot of mistakes, and has rarely been kind or empathetic towards Pakistan even when it is deserved... And yes I am sure we can be bullying and just plain assholes when seen from the other side ...
But the point is if you actually try to balance the TANGIBLE wrongs we have done to each other, its so lopsided ............ and the worst is that after 60+ years your army and government dosen't hate us an inch less... maybe even more

Maybe you don't agree - but that I think is how most Indians feel if you strip away all the bullshit. And thats why I think every year people get more and more disillusioned with the peace process every time. Nobody believes you are willing to change, and I worry that more people beg the question - how many times do you allow yourself to be slapped before you slap back -- and that I think should give all of us nightmares.

Also especially today I think people really worry that people like you may be quickly slipping into the minority without anybody willing to do anything about it....

Anyways I hope you get that I am not finger-pointing, just trying to explain how I think Indians feel - tell me if you think I am wrong anywhere


Hamza Malik said...

Rational discussions are the only way we can have meaningful conversations and clear up the misconceptions. :)

Anyway sorry about the delay in your comment publishing, it got stuck in the screening filter.

The thing I do agree Pakistanis have made mistakes. And yes our masters have had quite a lot to do with it. Yes we have been brainwashed into thinking that India is quite the devil and well you know all about it.

As far as Kashmir is concerned and the insurgency related to it, yes it was Pakistan backed. Only when we accept our mistakes can we move forward. But India did back out of holding a referendum in Kashmir and you just possibly cannot deny the thousands of Kashmiri deaths that have occurred at the hands of the Indian security forces.

I do believe quite strongly that RAW does have a part to play in the Balochistan insurgency for the simple reason that it suits the Indian security outfit. It would be naive to believe otherwise just like it would be naive of me to deny ISI is an angel and it doesn't play any role in terrorist ploys in India. Security agencies exist for a reason; to keep their countries secure. In our case, both our security agencies have taken it upon themselves to annihilate each other. And they have done quite a good job of it so far.

In our case, the lack of political institutions and the lack of their sovereignty means that the governments have over the years been subjugated to the might and will of the army. You're lucky to have an awesome democracy flourishing. If, God willing, we get the chance to keep this democratic process going, who knows what the future might hold (in a good way).

Designing India centric policies in Pakistan serves vested interests. So to keep vested interests alive, we have had whole generations brainwashed. Some people do not see that. Some people do. The thing is the majority of the airtime ends up being devoted to those who don't understand it because it helps keep a few people in high places.

It would help supremely if India made some friendly gestures to show that it is genuinely interested in friendship, because the people in Pakistan don't really believe it. You know like putting on the hand of the big brother and then pacifying its erratic, stubborn young brother that we are coz the policy makers here are too irrational to listen to common sense. The Indian policy makers must understand this.

Anyway that's my two cents. What do you think?

Hamza Malik said...

Also your thing about lopsided wrongs - well in my opinion that's just your propaganda machine telling you that everything wrong with India is Pakistan's fault. That's how the majority of the Pakistanis feel about India. So I think its quite balanced.

Although I will concede to this. India is much, much bigger than Pakistan and hence we cannot possibly match you in, well, anything. But the army has always done its utmost to do that.

Nobody on this side of the border believes that the peace dialogue is going to change anything. I mean we've been having the peace dialogue for 30 years. If 30 years couldn't change anything, I doubt it ever will. The need is to acknowledge our mistakes, have a friendly chat, and decide what's past is past. We apologise, you apologise. Let's start over. We'll be friends. And then we'll be awesome. SAARC could be what EU is.

But that would of course mean the end to the vested interests and the people in those high places, they so don't want that.

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