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The versed lady of Azerbaijan

MD Staff

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We are all familiar with the saying, behind every successful man there is a woman. When it comes to Mehriban Arif qizi Aliyeva, first lady of Azerbaijan, we could paraphrase that into: Beside every successful man, there is an equally successful woman.

First lady was never one to bathe in the reflected glory of her husband, Ilham Aliyev. She has earned a degree from the 1st Moscow State Medical Institute and has at first pursued her career at the Eye Disease Scientific Research Institute in Moscow for some years. In 1995 came the turning point, when she recognized her calling that took her away from practicing medicine and into the fields of charity and politics. “Friends of Azerbaijani Culture” Charitable Foundation was established by her initiative and that set her strongly on the humanitarian course. She is running the foundation to this day.

After the death of Heydar Aliyev, her father-in-law, Aliyeva also established the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which, at least according to Azerbaijan news article, »builds more schools than Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Education, more hospitals than the Ministry of Health, and conducts more cultural events than the Ministry of Culture”. In addition to the charitable work, holding events and the continuous promotion of Heydar Aliyev`s political ideology, Foundation does work outside state boundaries, too. Most high profile are, among many others, financing renovations at the Louvre Museum, palace of Versailles and Strasbourg Cathedral.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg of her impressive career. She has also founded the “Azerbaijan Heritage” magazine, which presides over promoting the Azerbaijan culture and is published in three languages, Azerbaijani, English and Russian. She was awarded high honour for her continuous efforts in Azerbaijan culture promotion, especially in the fields of folk literature and music, when she was given the title UNESCO`s Goodwill Ambassador in 2004. Additionally, she was the recipient of countless other international honours and prizes for her charitable work, including the ISESCO`s (Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural education) title of Goodwill Ambassador, award from the World Health Organization for exceptional services, international award “Golden Heart” for extensive charity activities, the “Golden Mozart” award from UNESCO, the “Star of the Commonwealth Award” for activities in the humanitarian area and “Olympic Excellence” Special honorary Prize for the promotion of Olympic values. At this year`s first ever European Games, held in Baku, Aliyeva commenced with a welcome speech at the grand opening of the Games.

She was also awarded the Grand Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Polish Republic Sept. 14, 2009, which she received for her contribution to development of friendly ties between Azerbaijan and Poland; the ”Ruby Cross” order of ”Philanthropists of the Century” from International Charity Foundation of Russia; Order of Legion of Honour by French President’s order; the  award for “Service to Turkic world” established by the  Turkic World musician and writers Union; conferred on the order “Hilal-e Pakistan” of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; conferred on a high state award of the Serbian Republic – the Sreten Order – for her special services before Serbia in public, cultural and humanitarian fieldand an honorary prize of the Turkish-German Friendship Federation for the contributions made to dialogue between civilizations, as well as for the services to promotion of the Turkic world in Germany and development of Azerbaijan-Germany relations.

She has also begun her career in politics in 2005, when she was elected to the National Assembly with 94 % vote under the flag of New Azerbaijan Party and has been a deputy chairperson since 2013. According to some western media, she is even considered as a highly likely successor of her husband as the president of Azerbaijan, if a third consecutive term would prove to be too controversial for Ilham Aliyev.

Despite shade, thrown at her in the light of leaked diplomatic cables, revealing that many of her western counterparts feel like she is not properly informed or educated on political issues and does not even attend the parliament sessions, she has become a role- model for women in her own country and beyond over the years. In Muslim societies, the way a public female figure presents herself, her level of success, the way she dresses, wears her hair or puts on make- up is always about something more than just general appearance. Aliyeva`s impeccable fashion sense, her impressive public career as a highly educated humanitarian with a PhD in Philosophy, a charity worker, a Goodwill Ambassador and now a politician, many in the western media speculate could be the next president of Azerbaijan, could therefore as well become the first Muslim female President in the future. Due to her successful career and a strong public persona, it is of little wonder that she has been sometimes referred to as the Hillary Clinton of Azerbaijan.

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Diplomacy

India’s Ministry of External Affairs is one of the best in South Asia

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In his exclusive interview for PICREADI Alexey Kupriyanov, Russian expert on India, reveals some secrets of Indian soft power and states that India’s External Affairs is one of the best in South Asia. But why?

Is India the subject or the object of soft power? How does India see its soft power approach in the world and does it see it at all?

India as any other country is at the same time both the object and the subject. With great importance attached to India by the great powers trying to ensure for themselves India’s support, the country is the object. It is well proved by the US soft power programs targeted at India. Numerous meetings, promotion of dialogue with experts and Indian youth, and business trips invitations are used by the US.

At the same time India is the soft power subject. That is why we should apprehend its political worldview. Their world consists of three concentric zones: the immediate neighborhood, extended neighborhood zones and the rest of the world. The immediate neighborhood zone includes the Indian subcontinent and all the neighboring islands, the extended neighborhood zone includes Eastern Africa, Central Asia, the coastal areas of the Arabian sea, Middle East and South East Asia. That is the zone that is influenced upon by India’s soft power. India is not able to use the hard power there due to the lack of resources, as well as necessity and will. So, the soft power develops.

Undoubtedly its influence spreads upon the rest of the world: it is enough to recall Indian films, Yoga days and the demonstration of its beautiful, old culture which dates back to 3000 B.C. Anyway, in the immediate neighborhood and extended neighborhood zones the Indian soft power programmes are much more extensive and detailed. The Indians organize military and police trainings, young politicians courses and etc., as a result a number of pro-Indian experts, officials and politicians emerge.

How is the system of public diplomacy structured in India? Does the government play significant role in this structure?

India’s system of public diplomacy works intensively through Indian Embassies, to which cultural, press and educational attaches are attached. Indian embassy maintains closest contacts with Indian, pro-Indian and India-linked circles, or at least tries to establish contacts with them. India will use everything that can be used to achieve the goals of public diplomacy. ISKCON represents a good example of this trend. In India itself they are regarded not so well, but abroad they represent Indian culture and so they are treated differently, because if you have something to do with ISKCON you will be pro India a priori.

The Raisina Dialogue, which has been held for some years, is a key expert event in the field of international relations and diplomacy. What is the aim of this events? To improve the image of the country? Or to organize international cooperation?

In fact, it is not the only one such event in India, there is a lot of various events. Raisina Dialogue is the most well-known one. Schools of young politicians are held in India on the regular basis. This instrument is now intensively used by both the West ant the East. Generally, big forums and conferences invite foreign experts to establish relations with their Indian counterparts. Young politicians schools last for one month or month and a half, there are lectures and the participants communicate with each other.

I know those who participated in these programs, and they got quite impressed, because it was the first time they visited the country and lived in it. This people leave the country with absolutely different feelings, because they already know the country, they love it and leave the country being an advocate of the Russian-Indian friendship, for instance.

So, the government of India is willing to develop the country’s positions in terms of soft power?

That’s true, Indian Foreign Ministry rigorously follows this sphere and successfully implements all the necessary programs. Indian Foreign Ministry is truly one of the best in South Asia.

In spite of the fact that the idea of non-violence is a traditional leitmotif of Indian policy, the most privileged strategic partnership with Russia develops not in the soft power, but in military-technical cooperation. What are the prospects of diversification of Russian-Indian partnership?

In fact, it is already quite diversified. Our cultural and scientific center (Russian Center for Science and Culture in New Delhi – “CD”) proactively works on strengthening of our culture ties and has already achieved considerable success. The ground is fertile there. Cultural links between Russia and India date back to the late 19th century, we should remember that Tolstoy’s ideas shaped Gandhi’s worldview. There are a lot of Soviet textbooks, printed in the Soviet Union in Indian languages, which were used by several generations. Russia’s image in India is still very positive, mostly thanks to this background.

Does it influence the youth as well?

Sure, it influences the youth less. First, our work in this aspect is not enough, second, back then we were a superpower and now we are not. It is clear that the youth incline towards the US, but with great influence of their families and social attitudes, the country has positive perception of Russia.

A lot of Indians visit Russian Center for Science and Culture in New Delhi leaded by Fiodor Rozovsky to learn the language, Russian culture and national dances. One of the central streets in New Delhi is called Tolstoy Marg, there are monuments to Tolstoy, Pushkin, in Nehru park there is a monument to Lenin, with floral breathes. For sure India is interested in Russia as well as Russia is interested in India. Cultural ties are okay, but economic ones are much more fragile.

China is far richer, but India holds all the nonfinancial actives and is able to carry out religious projects in South East Asia.

Russian-Indian partnership is developing against escalating Indian-Chinese confrontation on a great number of strategic issues (differences on the “One belt one road” initiative, etc.). There is a confrontation in cultural areas as well. May India take advantages of the drawbacks of Chinese model? In which countries it might do it?

Firstly, we should clarify the terms. India isn’t Chinese adversary, foe, it is Chinese rival in some infrastructural and political influence projects in South East Asia and border areas. India doesn’t strongly oppose the Belt and Road project. It is against China using disputed territories, as the China – Pakistan Economic Corridor goes through the lands over which India claims its sovereignty. China didn’t asked permission of India to do so. It represents an acute political issue, but there is no existential confrontation. If this issue is resolved, the problem will cease to exist.

Generally speaking, culturally India and China have been closely linked for a long period of time. It is enough to recall the evolution that underwent the image of bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara after it had negotiated the Himalayas, had feminised and had turned into the Godness of the hearth Guanyin.

Their economic ties are of the same importance. China is a major exporter of goods in India and one of the major investors into Indian economy. Despite all the differences, the countries continue to trade and the turnover is rapidly rising. So, we should discuss China-India rapprochement, as the Doklam confrontation was set aside in the context of prime minister’s Modi visit to Wuhan and rising cooperation.

Indian – Chinese confrontation in the soft power sphere can hardly be discussed, as the countries offer fundamentally different product. There are countries oriented towards China, there are countries oriented towards India, some countries manage to successfully combine these directions. China is far richer, but India possess all the non-financial actives and may carry out religious diplomacy projects in South East Asia. Small countries try to get on with both countries, for example in some infrastructural project they rent a port for reconstruction to China and the nearby airport to India.

One of the largest elements of soft power is the higher education. What about Indian soft power implementation through education?

It is all right. India invites foreign students, and there is nothing difficult in going to India to study, as they have a lot of educational programmes. Jawaharlal Nehru University, the University of Delhi and all the major universities exercise programs for foreign students. They are backed by the government.

There is an opinion that India could promote its own model (including the global governance model), which is different from the liberal Western one and the Chinese authoritarian one, through education. Is that true?

To do so, India should first make up such model. I would argue that the Chinese model is an authoritarian model. On the contrary, China undertakes attempts to create “a community of shared future for mankind” and accuses Western countries of authoritarianism and neocolonialism. Nowadays China is proactively inviting students from the Third World countries to train them as pro-Chinese, but on the other hand China isn’t interested in these students building specific African socialism under the auspices of a local Communist Party. It is mainly aimed at developing communication with Chinese people and promoting cooperation of China and their country of origin. India is doing something similar, it trains pro-Indian personnel, which transmits Indian influence and advocates friendly relations with India.

In case of India, Indian diaspora’s potential is of particular interest (It is one of the largest in the world). External policy of Indian prime minister Modi features direct appeal to Indian diaspora overseas. How does the diaspora influence Indian image abroad?

Firstly, as the Indian diaspora is so numerous, the appeal to it is a permanent feature of Indian policy. It has been shaping since Indians were settling down in the Indian ocean region, exercising their soft and not-so-soft power in South East Asia, establishing Indian and Buddhist kingdoms, settling down in Eastern Africa before the European reached the region. Under the British Empire it scaled up with British hiring Indians and sending them to the most remote corners of the vast empire. This is how Indian colonies were established in Barbados, Fiji, developed in Eastern Africa and in the Gulf countries.

The diaspora’s potential is quite a difficult question. Diaspora is one of the major sources of money, particularly the diasporas in rich countries, such as the Gulf countries. Indians go there to earn money, but they have no civil rights there and barely integrate into local communities: Indians can’t be granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia and so they live in the country as workers. They send money to India.

In the US Indians integrate into society and step-by-step become more Americans than Indians. There was a wide spread opinion that Indian diaspora is exceptionally large and powerful in the US. Indeed, it is huge and some of the representatives of the diaspora occupy quite high positions in the Senate and the Congress. But the US Indians are americanised.

The result of this phenomenon is evident in the outcome of the attempts to exempt India from US sanctions, which would have been introduced, if India had bought the S-400 missile system. And all of a sudden Indian diaspora proved to be totally useless in solving the issue. A great number of articles by distinguished americanised Indians calling to stop putting pressure on India were published in Indian and US top media resources, in The Diplomat, NYT and others, but it produced no results. It became clear that Indian diaspora on which so many hopes were placed turned out to be useless in solving conflicts of interest.

Indians that are engaged in public affairs in the United States put the US interests over Indian and consider the US-India rapprochement through the lens of US interests. So, India managed to suspend the sanctions without diaspora’s help, but thanks to the highly important geopolitical interest of containing China secured by Pentagon and the Department of State, which needed India to be friendly neutral. This impotence of the diaspora should be reflected on.

In other countries the character of diaspora’s influence is much more specific. The inability of diaspora to get along with the local population of Fiji constitutes continuous problem for Indian government. Indians living in the Middle Eastern countries become a financial source for the country, but once a war starts India evacuates its citizens spending a great deal of money, as it happened in Yemen.

What is more Indians left some colonial heritage, which is particularly evident in Eastern Africa. When the British colonised Eastern Africa, Indians were much more loyal to the British and so they became merchants, policemen, minor officials, that is why when the liberation movements started, they were sometimes treated even worse than the British. For instance, Indian diaspora failed to survive in Zimbabwe; in the South African Republic, vice versa, the diaspora is thriving and is engaged in political affairs. Somewhere the diaspora is economically powerful, but totally passive from the political point of view, somewhere it is all around.

In Russia Indian diaspora is not so large. Could it be used as a soft power instrument in Russia?

There are Indians who settled in the Soviet Union, who studied here, got married, born children, and got russiafied. They have a significant role in the Russia-India rapprochement. These are businessmen, journalists.

There are several reasons why the diaspora in Russia is not so large. Firstly, language barrier, secondly, the climate. Indians suffer from the lack of sunny days in winter more than from cold. Finally, we have a state dominated by a major nation unlike in the US, for example. In the Los Angeles you’ll see an American nation shaping in real time by Afro-Americans, Koreans, Chinese, Latin Americans and other peoples, so Indians will have this sense of belonging. In Russia the vast majority speaks Russian, there is a tiny minority of migrants from the non-CIS countries. There is an Indian diaspora in Russia and it is living quite good, but politically it has no influence. Their main role is to establish relations. It helps others, maintains relations with the motherland.

In terms of soft power, private media in India is of particular interest. One of the recent examples is the so called “modimania”. From your point of view, why this phenomenon has emerged?

First of all Modi is well received by the diaspora. When he visits a country, he is cheered as national leader, under whose governance the country is transforming into a great power.

Modi as a politician is quite interesting personality. He is as powerful, as those who made new Indian history: Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi. Under the last prime minister Manmohan Singh, characterized by Indians as a weak leader, some issues were talked down, he wasn’t able to act strongly. He should take into account interests of numerous small groups, particular personalities. That resulted in stalemate. He was quite predictable, the country has been developing economically, but he wasn’t able to undertake sharp policies.

Modi is so different from him. He is perceived as “a miracle worker”: he launched the “India cleaning programme” (creating a system of public lavatories and street cleaning) in 2004, which his precedents weren’t able to realize. Taking into account the scale of the problem, it seemed to be impossible, but in 5 years he managed to put it in practice. Nowadays India differentiates from the India of the past. Modi promises to provide everyone with gas, water, and electricity before his term ends. Modi is criticized, but his achievements should be acknowledged.

Modi’s charisma is evident in his speeches. He feels the audience quite well, which is so rare. He is able to seize the interests of the audience, its attention and speaks about the issues it is interested in, changing the line of the speech as soon as he needs it. Other public politicians aren’t able to do so. Modi is not only a public politician; he is also the head of the state.

What is more, he is the same as the majority of Indians: he is a Hindu, and he doesn’t show off his secularism. In Russia we usually make jokes of the elements of national identity, but for Indians Modi embodies Indian national identity. In spite of a great number of different groups in Indian population, the majority of Indians are rural Hindu, who speak Hindi and other similar languages. They respect Hinduism, respect the elderly and cherish traditions. Modi perfectly matches the image of Indian leader. On the one hand he is quite experienced, on the other, he is energetic, ascetic in everyday life, single as he wants to devote his life to the country. He creates for himself an image of an ideal Golden Age leader and at the same time a 21st century leader who respects traditions and uses an iPhone.

Where does the most well-known element of Indian mass culture – the cinema stand? There are any prospects for it in Russia?

The elderly grew up with Roger Kapur’s films. They were extremely popular. Surprisingly enough it may sound but our young population watch Indian films and TV series (“Baahubali”, for example). In comparison with Hollywood films, the Bollywood ones are still quite popular. What’s more there is not only Bollywood films, but also films of other Indian productions.

Nevertheless, these films are much more popular in the immediate neighborhood and extended neighborhood zones: in Afghanistan, in the Middle East and in South East Asia. A great deal of Bollywood films is made in Hindustani. It is a kind of lingua franca for Hindi and Urdu speakers, it uses basic vocabulary, which is familiar to both Pakistani, and Indians. Afghani and Arabs use these films to master the language, as they usually watch these films and TV series.

Where does the most well-known element of Indian mass culture – the cinema stand? There are any prospects for it in Russia?

The elderly grew up with Roger Kapur’s films. They were extremely popular. Surprisingly enough it may sound but our young population watch Indian films and TV series (“Baahubali”, for example). In comparison with Hollywood films, the Bollywood ones are still quite popular. What’s more there is not only Bollywood films, but also films of other Indian productions.

Nevertheless, these films are much more popular in the immediate neighborhood and extended neighborhood zones: in Afghanistan, in the Middle East and in South East Asia. A great deal of Bollywood films is made in Hindustani. It is a kind of lingua franca for Hindi and Urdu speakers, it uses basic vocabulary, which is familiar to both Pakistani, and Indians. Afghani and Arabs use these films to master the language, as they usually watch these films and TV series.

How does India manage to combine so acute social problems (poverty, terrorism, etc.) and development of cutting-edge and military technologies? How a country can be so attractive abroad with such domestic problems?

Frankly, it fails to combine it. No one is happy with the poverty. On the other hand, a sound economic reform is underway, the middle class is expanding, poverty, dirt on the streets, lack of electricity and astonishing customs are disappearing.

India reminds me of the China of 1980s, the country is still poor, but its economy is ready to skyrocket. The population is becoming richer and the old problems are being gradually resolved. There is a sparkling difference when you see Gurugram, Hyderabad and Bengaluru business centers in the midst of suburbs or jungles where illiterate peasants live. This difference will vanish. The Indians take it for granted as they can’t do anything about it. They try to conceal its domestic problems to preserve its image abroad, as any other country does, I believe. India is a developing, densely populated country, that avoids rapid decisions.

In conclusion, I would like to mention Indian religious soft power, in particular Modi’s religious diplomacy which is one of a kind. In different times India developed the idea of hindusphere, a Great India. Earlier, in Chola times Indians transferred Hinduism and Buddhism through the whole region, conducting a cultural expansion in the direction of South East Asia.

Under the British Empire another phenomenon came to existence. This is a so called “Indian subempire”, when the vice-king ruled the country and tried to expand its influence. So, Eastern Africa and the Middle East become influenced and controlled by India. After the First world war India seriously considered the plans to annex Iraq and former German part of Eastern Africa, which is Tanzania nowadays. India’s current approaches to the Asian West and the Asian East result from these two epochs of Indian history.

In terms of soft power India took advantages of these two epochs. It is far more active on the East, Modi reminds the country about the Golden Age, periods before the Muslim conquest, and in those times, India was much more active on the East. Today’s idea of the Indian-Pacific region perfectly matches this notion, as it says that India should develop its ties with countries, with which it had ties before the Muslims and the British. These are the Malay Archipelago and the whole South East Asia. But as India also proclaims itself to be the major force in the Indian ocean, it should balance its activities and pay attention to the West. Ties with the countries to the West should be also maintained, India should carry out projects in Africa, buy oil from the Gulf countries. So volens nolens it should cooperate with the countries to the West.

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The foreign policy of Pakistan has remained feeble for many years

Muhammad Usman Ghani

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Sometimes, we fail because of the obliviousness of our vulnerable aspects. The right direction and cognizance of flaws lead one to success. Pakistan, at times, is confronting the worst days. Its population is hard up due to increasing dearness, unemployment, devaluation of the rupee, and political and economic mess. Our leaders seem to reprimand previous governments for this mayhem. Despite, the incumbent government seems avid to reinvigorate the economy, endeavoring to take on people, and passionately bent on accountability. How much the government is victorious in dealing with those specters is another debate. However, the most significant aspect that the government has overlooked is of its weak foreign policy. Yes! Foreign policy for the progress of a country is as important as other aspects. But, perhaps, we have disregarded the foreign policy’s significance; this is also the cause of Pakistan’s economic turmoil. It is the foreign policy that guards the nation’s national interest.

The foreign policy of Pakistan has remained feeble for many years. However, ever since the PTI came into power; there has been speculation that foreign policy has begun to experience a boon. If one glance around; one will see that Pakistan’s stalemate with India persists, Pakistan’s terms with Iran are mediocre, Afghanistan eyes Pakistan as its destabilizer, only China among our neighbors perceives us as a staunch ally. When it comes to across the continent, our terms with the US are not valid. However, following the visit of Imran Khan to the US, people have grown their optimism regarding Pak-US ties. Yes! Imran Khan’s visit to the US was positive development, but the time will decide the achievement of his visit. Only the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is there, which helps us during the time of economic downturn. Therefore, there is an iota improvement in our foreign policy because we are still unable to establish cordial terms with our neighbors and other countries.

So several questions emanate that why we are facing diplomatic isolation irrespective of our aspiration to secure comprehensive affinities with other nations.

The very first answer is; aspirations work if one strives hard to make them thriving.

So, next question emanates what to thrive and how to thrive?

For this answer, one should have a better comprehension of foreign policy. It is the set of rules that one nation crafts in dealing with other nation. The sound foreign policy is the most compelling weapon that ensures any country’s prosperity. Hence, to make the foreign policy fruitful one should have an art of practicing diplomacy. It is the diplomacy that would make our aspiration into reality. Diplomacy is an art to engage with other nation. The sound foreign policy depends upon the practice of diplomacy.

Consequently, one must have found the answer that in our foreign policy, it is the feeblest component. Thus, how to make up deficiencies in the diplomatic course?

According to Rahul Shrivastava, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs of India there are some tools of diplomacy; without them, no state can sail on inclusive foreign policy.

The first tool of diplomacy is a political tool. This tool enables a country to enjoy substantial diplomatic bonds with another state. Role of the embassy in this tool is remarkable since the embassy in the host country speculates the problems between its country and the host country. For this purpose, the head of the embassy must be astute and able enough to read the trends of the time. It is the embassy that engineers the meeting between the heads of anchor and its country. Regrettably, our representatives of embassies have yet remained ineffective to engineer the state visits of leaders of countries from many countries. Along with it, our embassies in our neighbor states are inadequate to address their reservations. To rectify this imperfection, Pakistan needs to train its diplomats, and choose natively skilled diplomats, who could show the positive front of their country.

The second tool of diplomacy is of security. It includes the cooperation of one state with others in terms of defense, counter-terrorism, intelligence, and nuclear issues. Unfortunately, Pakistan lags in this specter badly. Pakistan finds no such ally that could conduct these practices with it. When a country handles any of the aforementioned practices, it builds and enhances confidence between states. Pakistan, in this regard, must have to revise its policies.

The third tool of diplomacy is a commercial tool. The state harness this tool by trading, investing, and building trade links. This tool helps a country to reinvigorate its economy. The more participant states, the more benefit they will get. Unluckily, Pakistan, according to this tool, relies only on China. Despite China, Pakistan enjoys no privilege to cultivate trade links with other countries. For this purpose, Pakistani diplomats need a campaign in other countries, which could inform about the products, goods, agricultural items that Pakistan can serve other states. Pakistani authorities should also invite other state delegations to visit our soil, and they should offer the Capitalists of those countries to invest.

The fourth tool of diplomacy is the cultural tool. It implies that the artists from one state should collaborate with the artist from another state. In this way, the intermingling of culture takes place. But this is only possible when higher authorities show keen interest. Pakistan is fortunate enough to share common things in culture with India, Iran, and Afghanistan. The Pak-India diplomatic row has halted the collaboration of artists from both sides. The application of the cultural tool in diplomacy helps a lot to bring the states together.

The tools aforementioned are part and parcel for those who aspire to practice effective diplomacy. There is no progress in a country without its sound foreign policy; likewise, there is no soundness in foreign policy without effective diplomacy. The incumbent foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has assumed this portfolio for the second time. He is also head and shoulders above all other leaders of PTI in spite of Imran Khan. Being a senior member of his party, and assuming a very estimable portfolio, he needs to revive the course of diplomacy.

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Diplomacy

Transcending Borders

Hareem Aqdas

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Usually the term of diplomacy is equated with a complex governmental framework with extended missions, official proceedings, treaties and much more- all part of a professional and complex system. It is generally thought that maintaining or restraining from relationships between two states is purely a state owned and worked mechanism – a faulty induction indeed.

Diplomacy works under a multilateral framework of nine tracks, known as the multi-track diplomacy: a conceptual way to view the process of international peacemaking as a living system. It looks at individuals, institutes, and communities that operate together for a common purpose: a world at peace.

Diplomacy can well be played by the citizens of democratic states as effective as the government of the state itself. Nine tracks include working relations through professional conflict resolution, business, private citizens, research, training and education, activism, religious, funding, and public opinion/communication other than the government can be exercised.

The government of Pakistan has been unable to untangle matter of maintaining cordial relations with its immediate neighbor- India since the past seven decades.  The framework of governmental diplomacy somehow has never been favorable for the political environment of the both countries, usuallyacting opposite to the intended outcomes of governmental diplomatic proceedings.

Yet, it is a noted and proven fact that the societies of both the nations have a strong will to connect to each other in a cordial bond keeping aside the politics that plays between their respective governments. Particularly the newer generation, the educated millennium have given multiple examples of how this idea can be lived to a reality if the societies are bond through ties within themselves.

Both the nations are proceeding with a democratic system that pertains influence of the society in shaping policy and decision making extensively. The society shares multiple examples of how they respectively have a wish to discard the long-lived hate and cherish a long-wished relation building up on similar arts, culture, society, language, traditions, festivals etc. Some of which are shared herein through personal experience and interviews:

Tourist in Pakistan

A case of an Indian tourist visiting Islamabad for the second time where she fell in love with Pakistani hospitality. She visited multiple areas including Lok Virsa where she was gifted a bracelet just because of belonging from India. She shares her thoughts about Pakistan in her article saying:

“I witnessed a physical similarity and a sense of great familiarity, while travelling along the straight road that disconnects yet connects the two nations”.

When asked about the relationship, she exclaims:

“Such is the relationship between India and Pakistan, between the states and between the people — a dichotomous relationship of conflict and cooperation, of hatred and curiosity, of suspicion and trust”.

When asked about her experience in Pakistan:

“My experience in Pakistan, for the second time, majorly comprised the latter set of emotions. It was a Track II Bilateral Dialogue that brought me to Islamabad, Pakistan, that I had often heard being referred to as ‘one of the world’s most beautiful capitals”.

She commented on the bilateral relations as:

“We often ponder about the role that common people can play in international relations when the deliberations often limit their role. It is important that the people understand how the conflict is tearing both our countries apart and how it is affecting each one of us. People of India and Pakistan not only share a language, a culture, love for Bollywood movies or Coke Studio, but (unfortunately), they also share the same socio-economic challenges”.

“It is important that we pressurize or support our states to talk, despite the hurdles. We need to support the voices of peace, for it is the only path to sanity”.

Tomato Soup

A local journalist from Pakistan had the experience to travel to multiple states of India during her professional career. She took a train after crossing the Wagah Border in Lahore to Amritsar. She describes the journey to be one of the best experiences of her life. She met amazing people who welcomed her in Indian land as her own. Travelling from a train and stopping at each station till Kerala, she had an in-depth experience with the Indian culture.

What she cherishes the most about her journey is the taste of tomato soup she had during her train journey. She says it was one of the best tomato soups she has ever had and has never tasted something similar to it. She fell for the Indian cuisine, which was very similar to her own. She has been an advocate of a bilateral cordial tie since her return. She fell in love with India, being from Pakistan.

A UAE love story

There exists a sense of hatred between the two countries, but remains an odd fact that when abroad, both nationals are the bests friends of each other. Particularly the UAE, which seems to be providing a unique opportunity for people from the neighboring countries to truly live like neighbors.

Danish Syed, an Indian living with a Pakistani roommate in UAE comments on his roommate Mohammad Haris as:

“He has been with me through good and bad times. Last year, my brother came to Dubai for a trip and to him, Haris was like a brother as well. Among the three of us, we didn’t feel there was any distance, it was just brotherhood.”

“It doesn’t matter where you are from, whether India or Pakistan. It’s just friendship that matters”.

Today, not only has his own perspective on people across the border changed, his family also loves his roommate like a son.

Haris, an aspiring vlogger, decided to create a short film on how Indians and Pakistanis become the best of friends in a country far away from the political climate back home.

A Way Forward

The above mentioned are a very few of millions of stories that exist as a pact of a cordial relationship between India and Pakistan. The sense of similarity pulls both of the societies together, indifferent of the stance of their governments.

It is high time where societies intervene to bridge the gap by bringing up their stories of cordial relationships with the other as a sign of  mutual peacemaking. Hatred, war and conflict that has been a prevalent part of the nature of this relationship has brought nothing to both the nations except skepticism, loss, blame-game and hate for each other. It is high time when the term of diplomacy is taken out of its cliched governmental prospects and is handled by societies towards peacemaking while transcending the borders that separate them.

Bilateral relations are not the sole responsibility of the governments through official track of diplomacy. Societies, education, culture, arts, business and multiple such non-governmental settings can play a tremendous role in bridging gaps- which is not only the need of the hour but is also a way forward in solving many problems faced by South Asia as a region. It is a win-win game where South Asia can be a stable, prosperous and interconnected region, like some other integrated regions of the world.

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