Seize the moment in Mohali

Editor’s Note: Aman ki Aasha?

By:Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri   

Afridi and Dhoni’s boys have thrown a diplomatic challenge. Their World Cup Cricket semi-final clash in Mohali can make history if their respective leaders take out time to step beyond their shadows and exhibit statesmanship.


The invitation to view the match by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his counterpart in Pakistan, which has fortunately been accepted, is apt and timely. As the boys in green and blue exhibit their talent and expertise on the field, eight long hours of rubbing the shoulders between the prime ministers can make history. Away from the compulsions of diplomatic crisscross and an agenda to respond to their respective cabinets and constituencies, Mr Singh and Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani can put animosity behind and make a beginning that is free from the backlog of history.

India and Pakistan are in need of political peace and a policy prescription that should flow from the canons of the respective government’s party manifestoes. The tendency of empowering the civil-military bureaucracy to sort out issues had only complicated their solutions, if any. The outcome of the composite dialogue lies deep in the glaciers of mistrust. By all means it has only compiled a library of arguments, hypothesis and fiction. It had acted like putting the cart before the horse, thus stalemating the situation for all times to come. This has to change, and Mohali – like Jaipur, that former Pakistani president General Ziaul Haq made use of to do some off-the-record plain talking on the eve of Operation Brass Track, while witnessing a cricket match, can make the difference.

This is the time to put behind us the Kargil deception and the Mumbai carnage. This is the time to stop repeating the mantra of cross-border terrorism, and the (sic) jargon loaded with concerns and consequences. It’s time to explore the serenity of a shared history, a common culture and the indispensability of geography that could not be changed even if we manage to live after a nuclear holocaust. There is no dearth of examples in which hostile nation-states have succeeded in making peace, and have registered epochs of tranquility. Germany and France of yesteryears, and Ireland and England of contemporary times, are worth emulating.

Any breakthrough in India-Pakistan relations is like rewriting a script. Though many would love to do so, none finds it necessary enough to take up the task. Resultantly it lingers in a state of inertia. Retaining restrictions on trade, travel and tourism have become so dear and near to the respective establishments that any talk of let up is frowned with.

This sense of disgust has furthered the distances between the two neighbours, inevitably making room for hardliners to rule the roost. Leadership, unfortunately, is hostage to passions and privileges of the few, and
the majority has resigned to the notion of never being able to see the doves’ triumph. This is a pathetic equation and is realistically unbecoming for two rising nations and economies that have much in common than in contrast.

Let Mr Singh and Mr Gilani make some tough decisions then and there from the podium of the VVIP enclosure after the match. Though it may sound Utopian, it is perfect and extremely necessary to do: scrap the visa regime, throw open the borders for trade, rewrite a new curriculum, appoint a high-powered commission of persons of repute to find a way out for resolving territorial disputes, put flowers in the barrels of the gun, and re-synergize the nuclear infrastructure to turn around the industrial and energy needs of the sub-continent. This is not asking for the skies, but certainly a bold recipe by any means.

Having voted into power over the fundamental of making peace with the neighbours, they are free to seize the moment. All they need to do is to stand tall and get counted. Pakistan’s establishment has come a long way and is more than eager for a just peace with Delhi. India has to revisit Napoleon Bonaparte’s vision of making peace with its surroundings, and should do so in all grace and humility as the big brother in the region. Islamabad and Delhi do not have a Waterloo and should not invent one for reasons of expediency.

Irrespective of who wins the game on Wednesday, India and Pakistan can win peace for all times to come. On the field in Mohali, either of the side will win. But in the Manmohan-Gilani enclosure, both can triumph. Rather than adding to war hysteria between the cricket crazy nations, cheering and embracing the teams once the game is over can roll in a new confidence building measure. Let’s behave as a family that begs to differ but is in all agreement to respect each other. The World Cup will again be up for grab in the year 2015, but doves may not live to see the day.

Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri is Khaleej Times  Assistant  Editor (Opinion).

NOTE:This is a cross post from Khaleej Times.

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  • SQ  On March 27, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Indeed a priceless opportunity.

  • MAB  On March 27, 2011 at 3:13 am

    It is bad idea to discuss politics on the occasion of a good cricket match.


  • M T  On March 27, 2011 at 5:14 am

    S & G too Mediocre to grab Peace. Fingers Crossed.To show maturity lies wth MD & SA. Last Chance !

  • Syed Ataur Rahman  On March 27, 2011 at 5:15 am

    Mr Mehkri thinks that the only political issues are ‘Bombay carnage’ or ‘Kargil Deception’. Who is he speaking for? What about Indian every efforts to demean and pull down Pakistan; what about self determination for Kashmiris, what about India breaking this country; what about the water war India has launched on Pakistan? Let the cricket match remain a cricket match and let us all enjoy the game. let us keep politics out of it. Do you think that Mr Gilani as our PM can resolve issues? Let us not mix issues and keep things as they should remain.

  • Faisal Malik  On March 27, 2011 at 5:53 am

    Years of hate-brewing can’t be wiped off just like that……….

    Zia’s trip only ensured one thing……….India knows that we know.

    Gilani has accepted and he will “informally” meet singh.

    until the hate-factories (media wars) are stopped at the government level, that have shaped up the perspective of both the nations on both sides, there will be NO peace…….period.

    India shows a step forward only when it feels its the need of the hour, NOT because it cares about peace.

    Indian resolve for peace will be unmistakable and recognized ONLY when they pull out of Indian occupied kashmir, and go through the referendum as promised by them in U.N. many many years ago.

    otherwise, its just another meet up with a snake that only knows to bite. even its own.

    • Akshay Kumar  On March 27, 2011 at 6:47 am

      I think India will win because baap baap hota hai aur beta beta hota hai.Best of luck for your team.

      • Faisal Malik  On March 27, 2011 at 9:39 am

        thanks for substantiating my point.

        a snake will remain a snake, however much of an area it carries.

      • Humayun Raashid  On March 27, 2011 at 12:21 pm

        Match jeetnaey say na to qoi bap na qoi beta banta hai. Agar istarha bap aur baita ban-ney lagaien toa ‘don’t forget the times India had been beaten by various countries’. In that case just count how many BAAPS India has acquired, through these defeats, which includes from Pakistan. I am sure Akshay must have accepted us as their BAPU, when they lost from us. BEST OF LUCK FOR PAKISTAN’S ‘GREEN SHIRTS’.

  • GRK  On March 27, 2011 at 11:00 am

    why we are living in fools paradise.nothing will come out of this visit.particularly our pm has no clue how cunning and intelegent indian diplomats are.i challenge the indian leadership that they may come forward with one initiative that within 30 day an agreement will be signed on siachine.and let indian pm visit islamabad and sign the agreement which will enable both sides to save 5 to 10 millions dollars a day on troops deployments.other wise just cosmetic smiles exchange of hypocratic gesture and than part will be over.grk

    • Zubair  On March 27, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      I agree with GRK. I really wish I could share the enthusiasm of the writer. I was sad to hear that our PM decided to go to India. for the Indians it is nothing but prank to shoe their goodwill which otherwise does not and never will exist. Just imagine if Gailani had invited the Sardar Ji for one such occasion. what do you think would be the reaction of Indian media and the BJP/Sive Sena etc. You have to live with the Indians to0 see their hatred. Their invitations to our actre4sses and singers is the only goodwill they have for. How many times must we be bitten to wake up. Please wake up and stop trumpeting the slogan of “aman ki asha”. this is our honest and sincere message to the pro-Indians intellectuals. The only way you can please the Indians is by obeying their commands. That acknowledging that we have no issues with them and that we will remain under their thumb like the other Indian neighbours. Then too you will be Lucky if they leave you alone. Remember “akhand Bharat ” is not just an empty slogan. It is embedded in all Indians minds and you Pakistanis are the only obstacle. Please wake up and stop pampering the enemy.

      • GRK  On March 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm

        zubair bhai i am delighted to read tou comments.i have met kuldeep nayyar in lahore in 2004.we talked of taking baby steps and the simplest one was siachine.he agreed with my point of view and despite his sincere efforts nothing moved.alas if the pm is going.may be his last visit as pm???let us see what miracle he can play to unfreeze the ice of hate in his visit,if pakistan wins perhaps no one will come to see him off at the airporet.they have done this with gen pm in agra.grk

  • Inam Khan  On March 27, 2011 at 11:55 am

    If Manmohan and Gilani do embrace each other at Mohali,the reprieve will be short lived as hardliners on both sides will not tolerate peace and amicability to grow.If we are to blame Jihadis in Pakistan,RSS Leaders like Baal Thakeray of India are no less……………….Inam Khan

  • Zubair  On March 27, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Kuldip Nayyar, despite his “sincerity” is and Indian first and last. He keeps on visiting Pakistan to get info and to deliver soft talk. I recall his visit on Mushahid’s wedding. He requested his friend Mushahid hussain to arrange a small meeting wiith Dr.A.Q.khan. Since AQ was a Friend of Mushahid, he agreed to meet him. It was just a short social meeting where Kuldip did not touch the subject of Nuclear weapon. Immediately after the meeting, Kuldip called Indian High Comissioner and said,”the job is done”. The article he publish of the so called interview with AQ was a damning one for Pakistan. As I said an India is only that—an Indian./

    • GRK  On March 28, 2011 at 12:58 am

      fully agree.his efforts for promoting peace are subject to pakistan accept indian domination,as is the case with bangladeshi prime minister hasina wajid.she will leave no stone unturned to promote indian influence in bangladesh.grk

  • Nasim Hassan  On March 28, 2011 at 12:58 am


    Cricket is a game by chance. This game can turn at any time. So all of us who plan to watch should enjoy the game and avoid the blame.

    Nasim Hassan

  • Zubair  On March 28, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I don’t why the writer is so happy about Gailani’s visit. He doesn’t seem to know Indians or is one of those ” aman ki asha” wishfuls. If by now we Pakistanis have been able to understand Indians, we deserve what we get. Just imagine Gailani inviting Sardar Ji to one such occasion in Pakistan. What do you think will be the reaction of Indians. Wake ip Pakistnis and stop living in dreamworld. What we see is only Bollywood and our singers etc or our pro-India ” intellectuals. We can’t imagine the hatred Indians have for us. You have to live with them to see the real face. You will forget BJP and Shiv Sena. THE ONLy GOOD Indian is a DEAD INDIAN.

    • Akshay Kumar  On March 28, 2011 at 1:03 am

      Bad luck.

      • Humayun Raashid  On March 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

        FOR YOU !!!

  • Shahid  On March 28, 2011 at 1:43 am

    What happened in Mohali 3 years bacK”

  • Tariq Qurayshi  On March 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I have read “Seize the moment …” by Mehkari. It is a futile effort to raise expectations when it is time to be realistic.
    How long we are going to live as stupid – – naïve, pipe dreamers , and hoping against hope for a change in India’s attitude toward us.
    You don’t know yet what India is all about. You think India will give up fanning trouble in Baluchistan, Sind, Fata and be not “mean” on the water flow to Pakistan and solve Kashmir. You are in for a heartbreak my friend. It is the bayghayrat lobby’ s issue which keeps on humanizing India and deceiving Pakistanis on the Indian intention to harm us. It is time to know ourselves and know our enemies – yes enemies. tariq qurayshi

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  • By World Spinner on March 27, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Seize the moment in Mohali « Pakpotpourri2's Blog…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

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