He came, spoke and faltered.
This one line is the crux of Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s ill-executed visit to India.
The motor-mouth Minister had stepped off the plane promising to champion the cause of Indo-Pak peace. By the end of his visit, he had done all but that.
The goodwill visit only further soured the already curdled relations between the two uneasy neighbours.
Mostly, one is used to or even expects belligerent or intransigent positions on thorny issues, but nothing prepared me for the theatre of unlimited brazenness.
Malik’s statement on late Captain Saurabh Kalia took the cake and sent diplomacy hurling to a new low. Rather than offering to investigate war crimes, if a senior government representative blames inclement weather, it is not a just a faux pas or haw moment; it is cruel. Inhumane.
Mr Rehman Malik only rubbed in the salt further when he went on an offensive to defend his position, saying Pakistan had not invited Saurabh Kalia over!
In that case, we had not invited Pakistan regulars in civil clothes to Kargil. Or hardened terrorists who have been planting bombs across India. They too are most unwelcome guests.
Obviously, the Minister needs some mentoring on international politics and treatment of war prisoners. He could probably take a leaf from India’s book on how we treated Pakistan prisoners of 1971 war.
By blaming media for raking up a 13-year old issue, the minister was inadvertently faulting his own country’s foreign affairs mandarins for not briefing him adequately on issues currently circulating in India.
But the Minister didn’t stop there. He named 26/11 and Babri mosque in the same breath; there itself he set the wrong tone.
Someone could have retorted about the demolition of a Hindu temple in Pakistan recently. Possibly, more nonchalant idiosyncrasies may have followed.
India has its own ghosts to come to terms with, but these are our battles. We don’t need lecturing from others, whose own house is not in order.
Malik kept at it till the last. When he named Abu Jundal as an Indian intelligent agent next, I wondered when the parody of absurd would stop.
Bad humour turned ugly when it was found that on all the three occasions that the Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Saeed was put behind bars, it was not for 26/11 but some frivolous charges! India had been beguiled all along.
The diplomatic venture turned out to be one of those rare occasions when ties breakdown to a point that no joint statement is issued. India and Indians were clearly displeased.
I wondered about the whole point of Malik crossing the Wagah in the first place. What was the need for him to come, if he was to only make things worse; and that too from an already sordid situation?
Rehman Malik has quite a reputation in Pakistan for his ill-timed and ludicrously frequent gaffes, which only serves the idea of restraining him within the borders of their own country even more.
Because if there is ever a lesson on what not to do on a “goodwill” mission to another country, Malik’s India visit would remain the unchallenged shining example for a long time to come.