Zardari’s India visit: Much ado about nothing?
As the hype over Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s India visit settles, critics and the general public are wondering whether the so-called dargah diplomacy could be a game changer in India-Pakistan ties?
Zardari’s trip to India, the first by Pakistan’s head of state since Pervez Musharraf’s visit in 2005, was overshadowed by the spectre of Hafiz Saeed, who had a $10 million American bounty placed on his head this week.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Zardari it is imperative the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks are brought to justice.
New Delhi’s insistence on punishing Saeed, the suspected mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, may put further pressure on Islamabad to take action against one of its most notorious Islamist leaders. But the Pakistani establishment has maintained there is no concrete evidence against Saeed.
It remains to be seen whether Saeed, whose whereabouts in Pakistan are no secret, will be reined in. After all, he has been cleared by Pakistani courts.
But can Zardari do something in the interest of bilateral diplomacy? He has his own problems to deal with back home, including a widening rift with the powerful military establishment. His prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani may lose office if convicted by the Supreme Court for his failure to re-open corruption cases against Zardari.
For now, Pakistan’s strategy seems to be ‘wait and watch’ or perhaps pray, which is what Zardari did.