10 April, 2012
By Amjad Malik
President Zardari has visited the Shrine of Ajmer Sharif one of the most holiest places for Muslims in India and a reminder of those saintly figures who converted millions with their good deeds, treatment and character. I am not aware of what he prayed but naturally Swiss case may not have escaped from his mind. On a serious note, Pakistan and India must pave way for a serious understanding between both countries as neighbours and improve their outlook on regional policy, use of resources for the welfare of its people and turn war mongering slogans towards peace making initiatives. This cannot be one way traffic or a private 'holi' but a fully chalked out official state dialogue to ease the sufferings of both Power shortage, corruption, lack of resources and poverty ridden countries.
Visiting 'shrines' & 'cricket' diplomacy may be a good way to boost individual accomplishments & may contribute to start and even move a step further from a back door diplomacy as part of CBM. However, before opening trade & travel, President should have tangible understandings in solution of water crisis, cross border infiltration in rear Fata & Baluchistan and the outstanding Kashmir issue. Pro Kashmiris will not let him Live politically,and establishment to breathe if he makes any mistake at a shady road of indo-Pak relations. Bhutto senior, Benazir and Nawaz Sharif suffered greatly for efforts to import peace unilaterally. Post Bombay attack there is a thinking that this cannot go on, and last few years Indo-Pak mutual exchanges from lawyers, traders, actors, writers and politicians are conducive to facilitate a support of a genuine dialogue. How this can be a two way traffic, President must have noticed & raised the issue of Pakistani cricketers discriminately excluded from (IPL) 'Indian premier league'. Whole world is watching IPL without any Pakistani player which is a blatant disregard to any good will people wish for each other & above all a disservice to sports. If they are included in IPL that could be a good gesture towards confidence building measures as Pakistan is already showing Indian Bollywood films in its cinemas unilaterally, and is dying to give India a 'Most Favourite nation' status.
If visiting shrines at public purse and donation of 1 million dollars can ease the sufferings of many millions across the border who are suffering of poverty, food and electricity shortages and stung with animosity of decades long then be it, I am all for it, even I will request 'baba jee' for peace too. However, our bitter history tells us that this kind of private spree bears a limited fruit. A genuine mind changing three pronged dialogue between both country's state establishments, Govts, and people to people is required to change the mindset of 'war' towards 'peace' between arch enemies. Intl community must foster that environment where we learn to live as good neighbours first, and then move towards a friendship and or status of 'friendly states' having trade and tourism actors.
There is a sense in serious circles that president is not around whenever Pakistan is hit with any natural disaster. He was not around when we were hit with floods. He is not around and is on a foreign visit again at a time of national calamity when over hundred soldier s are caught in an avalanche at Siachen glacier presumably at the end of their life in the line of duty. Again their supreme commander & head of state was not around to share those grieving. He is eating 'Biryani' with those who created the mess at Siachen at first place. Common sense desires to consider a change of plan, but we are all humans end of the day not devoid of weaknesses & follies.
In a lighter note, people are gossiping that Ali Baba with his 40 companions is splashing money when his constituents and the nation are begging for Rooti, kapra aur makkan, & He has kindly added electricity in that list of demands as people are on streets protesting for power shortages. With one hand we are shouting to beg alms from international community, and with the other donating from public purse in millions. I feel strongly that Ajmer Sharif administration may not in a national embarrassment return his donation due to smell of graft in it due to 'NRO' case publicity and may ask him to send Abdul Sattar Edhi to make that donation. What Ajmer visit brings to nation will be a wait and see trial but an exchange will surely cement three generation old relations of both families in this dynasty from Gandhi & Bhuttoo to the next heirs Bilawal & Rahul. Let's hope next generation takes away the seeds of sorrow & hatred from the hands of their citizens and replace it with the 'candle of peace'.
Barrister Amjad Malik is a Chair of the Association of Pakistan lawyers.