Have patience Mr Imran Khan; your 'small men' remark can damage India-Pakistan ties more

Shubham Ghosh

New Delhi, Sept 23: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday, September 22, lashed out at India after New Delhi cancelled a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly citing "unclean intentions" from the Pakistani side. Khan said in a tweet that he was "disappointed at the arrogant and negative response by India" to his call for resumption of the peace dialogue.

There is nothing new in the outburst of a Pakistani ruler against India but what was unique with Khan's frustration is how he put it. Caring little for political correctness, the cricketer-turned-politician spoke on lines of US President Donald Trump as he uttered: "...all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture."

Imran Khan's India stance has changed

The 65-year-old had said after inching closer to power in Pakistan in July that if India made one move towards improving their relation, his country would make two. In less than two months' time, Khan's language changed 180 degrees and he straightway called India's rulers "small men" who lacked the vision.

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The Pakistani prime minister missed a point or two in this game of psychological war. He should have understood that just like India has relevance in Pakistani politics before and during elections there, the same holds true when it comes to Indian politics.

If India is an issue in Pak elections; Pak too an issue in India polls

We saw the debate and discussions ahead of the July 25 elections in Pakistan featuring India a number of times. Even former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif made controversial remarks over the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in which he targeted his enemies in Pakistan's domestic politics. Even Khan was seen making a remark or two on how Sharif handled India policy (he appreciated his domestic foe) and that India's anti-Pakistan stance made it difficult for their relations to progress.

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If the establishments in Pakistan consider India a key factor in their election, then how can they overlook the fact that Pakistan holds the same importance in elections in India? With the national elections in India not far and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy coming under question in certain respects, it is not surprising to see New Delhi rejecting Islamabad's gestures at this point of time.

The BJP has seen in the past that initiating peace with Pakistan has not always delivered on the expected lines (Atal Behari Vajpayee's Lahore bus diplomacy being an example) and the current Modi regime will take little risk on that front now as that could hurt its nationalist constituencies.

Moreover, with the situation in Jammu and Kashmir being sensitive and cross border terror showing its worse face again, even a child would understand that from India's perspective, it is too much Khan is expecting at the moment. The fact that India are playing Pakistan in cricket at the moment is more than enough.

Have patience, Mr Khan

One feels Khan has not only understood the nuances of the ground reality of politics in these parts but also the fact that success doesn't come in diplomacy overnight. There is no point in expressing frustration saying "small men occupying big offices" for whether small or big, those men in big offices have to abide by the day's reality.

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Khan was no better when he was yet to win the election in his country and now once he has overcome the hurdle, he is eager to flag off his mission to become a statesman. But Modi is yet to overcome his own immediate challenge which is the 2019 Lok Sabha election. If he overcomes that hurdle with flying colours, Khan could see the "small men" turning "big".

Till then, the former cricketer has to be patient and refrain from making statements that could damage India-Pakistan ties more.

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