Nobel Peace Prize for Zardari?

  • At first I thought this was a joke but I have received this email many times now. Are we about to see a Nobel Peace Prize for Pakistan? The Indian lobby must be working on over drive to stop this!

    Subject: Fw: Zardari Pakistan's Next Nobel Laureate?

    What was advertised as a private lunch between two world

    leaders may have actually been an international summit of

    historic consequence. Against all odds and the outcry of

    groups like PTI and Difa-e-Pakistan Council, President

    Zardari landed in Delhi on Sunday and became the first

    Head of State of Pakistan to meet with his Indian

    counterpart in almost a decade. As much as the president’s

    trip was unprecedented, though, it was not unexpected.

    Actually, it was only the latest in an ongoing series of

    efforts by President Zardari to transform hostility and

    tension into peace and cooperation between our two nations.

    According to news reports, the issues discussed by the two

    leaders included how to resolve conflicts in Siachen and

    Kashmir as well as Sir Creek estuary. Sadly, these talks

    were held against the backdrop of tragedy when 135

    soldiers were martyred in an avalanche that engulfed a

    military complex at the entrance to the Siachen glacier.

    Dawn termed the tragedy as the result of a ‘pointless

    conflict’, referring to the decades-old military standoff

    at Siachen which started with Indian encroachments in 1984

    – almost 30 years ago. The standoff has continued because

    India insists that “any Siachen withdrawal agreement must

    include a record of its posts on what is known as the

    Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL)”. Obviously, this is a

    non-starter. It would be as if Pakistan Army had refused

    to pull back from its advanced position in Kargil unless

    India recognised a change in the Line of Control. What is

    needed is not intransigence, but a willingness to find

    compromises that develop assurances that allow both sides

    to ease their forces back to pre-1984 positions. That is

    where Zardari shines.

    President Zardari is not a military strategist, he is a

    businessman. Ironically, this may be exactly why he is

    able to facilitate a change in direction in the age old

    conflict. Unlike the art of war fighting, business is

    rarely a ‘zero-sum game’ in which one side’s gain is the

    other side’s loss. In business, both sides look for

    mutually beneficial transactions. When a deal is made,

    both buyer and seller come out ahead because both have

    something that they wanted.

    Geopolitics is often misunderstood as a ‘zero sum game’ by

    those who are unwilling or unable to think creatively

    about finding solutions. Military strategists used to

    thinking in terms of ‘lines of control’ and land gains are

    unable to see any other prize besides specific areas of

    land. Status quo political parties are unwilling to let go

    of the conflicts that keep them relevant.

    Nobody expects a miracle. But even The Nation sees

    Zardari’s trip as a potential game-changer.

    "Despite the decades-long boundary dispute, India and

    China, the two rising Asian powers, have managed to scale

    up bilateral ties to over $70 billion and set an ambitious > target of $100 billion by 2015."

    "Compared to that, bilateral trade between India and

    Pakistan stood at a mere $2.7 billion, with trade balance

    heavily in favour of India. The Confederation of Indian

    Industries (CII) has predicted that trade may touch $10

    billion by 2015, if the barriers are removed."

    "Singh underlined this new spirit of pragmatism in ties

    after talks with Zardari. “We are willing to find

    practical, pragmatic solutions” to all issues dogging

    their ties “and that’s the message that Zardari and I

    would wish to convey,” he said."

    In 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel

    Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama “for his

    extraordinary efforts to strengthen international

    diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. Asif Zardari

    is not an international celebrity of the calibre of Barack

    Obama, but that makes his efforts to end the decades long

    nuclear standoff in South Asia that much more compelling.

    The Nobel Prize is not a popularity contest, but a

    recognition of the extraordinary efforts of individuals to

    transform hostility into peace. After decades of tension,

    four wars, tit-for-tat skirmishes and a nuclear standoff,

    President Zardari has changed the direction of

    Pakistan-India relations. It will be interesting to see if

    the Nobel Committee has noticed.