The 24/7 diplomatic prodigy!

The word “prodigy” in the title of this column is used as a notable happening and an act so extraordinary as to inspire wonder.

India’s unusual tough response over the arrest of its diplomat Devyani Khobragade has forced the US to initiate an ‘inter agency review’ to look into the lapses that happened in the high profile case,” reported the Dubai-based Gulf News under the front page heading: “India stand over diplomat shocks US officials.” The said write-up goes further: “In a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that there was a ‘judgmental error’ in handling this case, sources said the inter-agency team led by the State Department is ‘working 24/7’ to get it resolved as quickly as possible.”
Earlier, India had invoked “the law of strict reciprocity” that governs diplomatic relations between countries in the contemporary nation-state system under the Vienna Convention for Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention for Consular Relations and recalled “the identity cards of all US consulate personal and their families based in India, withdrew all airport passes for consulates and embassy vehicles,” said a press report. In addition, Indian External Affairs Ministry has sought information on salaries paid to all Indian staff employed in the US missions (to check if the US law on minimum wages has been violated) and bank account details of all American nationals working at the American School to find out if they pay income tax. India’s tit-for-tat diplomacy has resulted in the withdrawal of all extra privileges enjoyed by American Ambassador Nancy Powell and other diplomats.
Indian fury over the Khobragade affair is unprecedented, highly vocal and expressed with powerful diplomatic political acts of retribution against the US. New Delhi has demanded an unconditional apology from the US. There appears to be national unity throughout the Indian political establishment on the issue. Information Minister Manish Tewari said, “America cannot behave ‘atrociously’ and get away with it.” “Earlier, Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, federal home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, the ruling Congress party vice president Rahul Ghandi and principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi cancelled their pre-scheduled meetings with a visiting delegation of US Congressmen to register their protests.”
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said, “they should tender a clear apology. We will not accept this conduct against India under any circumstances… The US has to understand that the world has changed, times have changed and India has changed.”
India, Pakistan’s arch enemy, historical adversary and unmistakable political nemesis (the word is used as a cause of endless frustration) must be given credit when it is due. The fact of the matter is that India in the Khobragade affair has forced imperialist US to rethink its historically appalling diplomatic and political conduct as the world’s policeman towards non-Western nations. Hats off to the Indian Prime Minister, politicians of the Left, Right and Center, the whole of the political establishment and the entire nation for standing in absolute unity and challenging a Super Power for its obvious diplomatic-political misconduct. It is not a victory for India only, but for the rest of the emerging Third World in an attempt to transform a global system in which the US, as a leader of the Western imperialist block, has been dictating its will by fair and foul means since early last century, by an inhumane ideological pretext that “all means justify the end”.
India, at last, has said “enough is enough.” It is a political, diplomatic, philosophical and ideological struggle to change the contemporary global system for which the Pakistani nation must applaud the Indian political leadership. This is how sovereign, self-reliant, self-respecting, democratic and free nations behave and ought to conduct themselves. There are lessons to be learned from Indian political behavior in its recent diplomatic row with the US and forcing America to rethink its police-state mindset towards lesser powerful nations. India has instigated a new ideological balance of power equilibrium in the nation state global system. It, in itself, is a fundamental development towards a balanced and peaceful world. However the vital questions are: Will India treat Pakistan with the same kind of respect and diplomatic equality that it is demanding from the US? Will there be a glaring Indian behavioral contradiction when it comes to dealing with Pakistan?
Islamabad, with its relentless pro Indian-centric foreign policy focus, appears to be conducting itself under US dictates and IMF pressures. The irony is that Pakistan’s political establishment and leadership does not seem to have an understanding of the contemporary Indian mindset, its emerging independent and political (artful, strategic, calculating, judicious and shrewd) political behavior and its manifest objectives. India will continue to treat Pakistan as a political military adversary for the foreseeable future because, in doing so, India is likely to promote its strategic regional and global objectives. Unless Pakistani political leadership becomes logically able to comprehend India’s political mindset and its future regional plans, Islamabad will continue to flaw in its political discourse towards New Delhi, as it has been doing endlessly and most specifically recently under the PML-N stewardship.
Look from an Indian perspective, for example, at Islamabad’s recent over-zealousness in promoting Indo-Pak friendship. India knows that Pakistan and India are not in a state of war (or are we?). It also knows that a limited or an all-out military conflict between the two nuclear-armed nations is an absolutely remote possibility. India is also aware that Pakistan is economically nearly bankrupt and its Right-wing government is dependent on the IMF and US financial assistance; consequently, it is under US and IMF dictates in its domestic and foreign policy options - specifically when it comes to Indo-Pak relations. The Indian political leadership is fully cognizant that Pakistan is faced with serious domestic problems of law and order, regional insurgency (in which RAW is involved) and other massive economic and political problems. India is absolutely clear that Pakistan has no domestic or diplomatic leverage to conduct its relations with India (or for that matter with other nations) from a position of strength. It is also fully informed that the recent Indo-Pak friendship  mantra from Islamabad’s political leadership is a tactical and rhetorical approach to divert public attention from domestic failures and growing economic problematics.
Hence, the question is: why would India offer the kind of friendship that the PML-N leadership in Islamabad is seeking from it at the zenith of its diplomatic and strategic global glory?  Let us be rational: Present-day India is in the business of conducting its “Politics” with an eye on its emerging global role and merciless Realpolitik.  It is not going to be involved in handing out a freebie to its historical adversary no matter how humbly and persistently the Pakistani Prime Minister continues to ask for it – that is, if we think rationally.
Indeed, Pakistan and India must live in peaceful coexistence.  But will India compromise its regional hegemonic ambitions for the sake of its immediate neighbor’s friendship?  We would be foolish to believe so. 
We all know perfectly well that even massive trade cooperation with India cannot and will not resolve Pakistan’s economic problems, unemployment and its domestic socio-economic problematics.  The fact of the matter is that Pak-India friendship is not a remedy to Pakistan’s growing domestic problems nor should it be Islamabad’s top national priority.
Islamabad’s Indian diplomacy can wait – the sky will not fall on us.  But the magical approach for Pakistan’s survival and development is: Our political leadership’s diligent and relentless 24/7 engagement in setting national priorities correctly, finding head-on “out-of -the-box” resolutions of common citizens’ problems, issues, and deprivations, and serving the nation faithfully, honestly and tirelessly.
Islamabad needs to switch off its Indian friendship mantra and switch on a 24/7 formula as a fresh political initiative to save this country.
The vital question is: Will Islamabad consider this proposal and agree to it?  That remains to be seen.

    The writer is UAE-based academic, policy analyst, conflict resolution expert and author of several  books on Pakistan and foreign policy issues. He holds a doctorate and a masters degree from Columbia University in New York.

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