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.