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New age diplomacy

Diplomacy is an essential aspect for coexistence amongst countries. Even after wars, countries move towards pacts and mutual treaties.

Constant tussles and egos lead to isolation. During World War II, the world was divided into alliances where all the great powers fought against each other resulting in the bloodiest conflict in human history. But in the end peace prevailed.

In 1947, the Paris Peace Treaties were signed post World War II between the UK, US, France, Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, Hungary and Finland. The treaties allowed the defeated Axis powers to resume their responsibilities as sovereign states in international affairs and to qualify for membership in the United Nations. Today all these countries have cordial relations, share borders, easy visa policies and, above all, ease of trade.

Pakistan holds a strategic importance in the region because of its geographic position, be it the fall of the Soviet Union or the two-decade dragged ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan.

Pakistan and India have always had not-so-cordial relations, with two full-fledged wars and on and off tussles. But in 2019, India crossed the red line by revoking Article 370 in Kashmir, since then there has been a hostile environment between the two neighbors. Also, India must realize that it takes two to tango. If they expect cooperation from Pakistan on combating terrorism then they too must take a step forward to resume bilateral relations because factually Pakistan is the biggest victim of terrorism and has incurred hefty losses fighting against terrorism. The empty blame game from the Modi-led government must stop.

The recent SCO summit was held in India where Eurasian foreign ministers gathered on regional security. This time India was hosting the summit. Pakistan, being a member of the SCO, accepted the invitation from India where Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto was the talk of the town. There was a strong buzz about Bilawal’s visit even before his arrival in India. Despite the arrogant behaviour of India’s Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar, immense grace was shown by Bilawal Bhutto. Entire international and local Pakistani media has been praising the cool kept by the young foreign minister.

Bilawal while giving an interview to an Indian news channel said, “This is not the same secular India which my mother taught me about”. This statement irked those Indians who brag about inclusivity but have actually been spreading hate to please Modi. During the interview when Bilawal Bhutto was questioned about Pakistan’s efforts on curbing terrorism, his crisp and subtle response silenced the interviewer: “This wolf whistling around the word terrorism which is ultimately an Islamophobic wolf whistle not only to whip up Hindu sentiment in India but also to brow beat Pakistan, that might be election strategy for some but not effective terrorism strategy”. How brilliantly he wrapped up the travesty and double standards of Indian diplomacy.

Jaishankar, with all his experience, turned out to be an insecure minister with discourteous hosting behaviour. Gone are the days of the 1980s and 90s when such behaviour could have created an impact. The times have changed and so have diplomatic norms. Pakistan’s millennial Foreign Minister Bilawal was composed, well prepared, and courteous with a much better grip on foreign affairs than many of his contemporaries.

One more thing Bilawal Bhutto proved was that a strong message can be easily delivered with supporting facts and figures and humility. Peace and harmony can overshadow war and hatred. Sooner or later there will be pressure on the Indian side to move a step forward and mend ties with Pakistan because the extremist mindset of the BJP can’t be tolerated forever by the international community. In order to maintain global harmony, India will have to change its unworthy arrogance.

China has been a sincere friend of Pakistan, the growing economic strength of the former plus the long-term positive effects of CPEC will soon bear its fruits and that is why India is worried and showing its discomfort. Isolation and constant hostility with Pakistan will be costly and difficult for India.

After the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan there has been a rise in terror activities across the region which is a matter of concern for all the neighbouring countries. In the region, Pakistan has an upper hand in dealing with such situations, being the closest country to Afghanistan and with great experience in dealing with the Afghan stakeholders. So, the international community will make sure that India behaves and acts civilly with Pakistan for regional harmony.

During the SCO summit in India, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto got a lot of attention, and raised the interest of quite a few among the who’s who of domestic and international power jugglers with his new age diplomacy. The way he gracefully raised Pakistan’s concern for the status of Kashmir and peace in the region earned him a lot of praise and respect from the public at large, journalists and even media celebrities; because when it comes to Pakistan the entire nation gets united.

Not just at the SCO summit but even last year during a media briefing at the United Nations headquarters FM Bilawal gathered a lot of praise when he, despite political differences with Imran Khan, defended the former PM over his visit to Russia amidst the Ukraine war. But unfortunately, many immature leaders of the PTI out of jealousy and political animosity did petty politics over Bilawal Bhutto’s visit to India.

The positive and calm gesture of Pakistan – as opposed to what the Indian side exhibited – will mount pressure on the Indian government to undo their wrongs and for that undoubtedly the credit goes to Bilawal Bhutto for doing the right things at the right time.

Mustafa Abdullah Baloch, "New age diplomacy," The News. 2023-05-11.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political differences , Diplomacy , Terrorism , Bilawal Bhutto , S. Jaishankar , Afghanistan , Pakistan , CPEC , SCO