इंडियन आवाज़     28 Sep 2023 03:35:16      انڈین آواز


as the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh hosted a dinner in honour of the Pakistan Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani in Mohali on the sidelines of the Indo-Pak cricketing encounter.

Dr Singh first batted for this diplomacy as it was certain that the two teams would clash in the semi-final in Mohali in the Indian state, Punjab. He invited the Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and his Prime Minister Gilani.

Gilani responded and arrived. Just a day earlier on Tuesday the two-day Home/Interior Secretary Level Talks successfully concluded in New Delhi setting the tone for discussions between the two prime ministers.

According to the noted strategic affairs analyst, Brahma Chellaney, the Indian Prime Minister’s cricket diplomacy has caught everyone by surprise.  . “In diplomacy, you have to do the preparatory work first if you want to have a result. This sounds like an impulsive move,” he says.

Indian Prime Minister’s Media Advisor, Harish Khare is of the opinion that the invitation to Gilani was “a spur of the moment decision.” He confirmed that there will be no specific agenda or any structured dialogue. It would be an opportunity to build mutual trust and enjoy the match.

True there is no structured agenda for the dinner talks between the two prime ministers. But there is some seriousness in the cricket and dinner diplomacy. The Pakistan Prime Minister has come with his 60-member team, including several ministers and members of different political parties. To match Gilani’s team the Indian Prime Minister would be assisted by the National Security Advisor, Shiv Shankar Menon and Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao.

India attempted to build mutual trust through cricket diplomacy in the past which yielded mixed results. Pakistan President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq  attended an India-Pakistan match in 1987, but relations between the countries soon deteriorated. In 2005, Singh invited President Pervez Musharraf to an India-Pakistan match in New Delhi which almost culminated in a deal on Kashmir.

According to a senior fellow at the New Delhi based Center for Policy Research, C Raja Mohan for all the highly structured meetings by lower-level officials, progress is usually made when the top leaders are directly engaged. If the cricket diplomacy resulted in warmer relations, Mr. Singh should visit Pakistan as his next move.

Writing in The Indian Express he said “Right or wrong, India’s Pakistan policy has always been driven by the gut instincts of the prime ministers rather than the carefully crafted approaches by the diplomatists….. If the mood at Mohali turns out to be good, Dr. Singh and Gilani might help give the dialogue at the bureaucratic level a much needed boost.”

Before leaving for India, Gilani told reporters in Rawalpindi that he was satisfied with the resumption of talks between the two countries and that both the prime ministers were committed to work for peace and prosperity in the region.

His words should be noted in this context.”As far as our relations are concerned, I am happy that our talks have resumed. The talks between the Interior Secretaries were conducted in a positive manner. I appreciate that,” he said.
Expectations are high on both sides that the meeting of the two prime minister would go a long way in building mutual trust and confidence.


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