Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group
One step ahead and two steps backward! This has been the story of relationship between India and Pakistan. But the year 2011 witnessed a new era in ties between the two neighbors who have already gone to war thrice over post independence. For a pleasant change it was not about bullets and guns but about desire, talent, and above all going beyond the rhetoric to give Indo-Pak ties a new face!
The year did not start on a positive note with cricketers from Pakistan being once again shut out of the Indian Premier League (IPL). However, all was not bad for Pakistani cricketers as the legendary cricketer and former fast bowler from Pakistan, Wasim Akram retained the top seat as the head coach of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team.
The turning point in relationship came when Pakistan’s foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar visited India for ministerial level talks. A woman minister dwelling on sensitive matters of state and foreign policy was expected to ease the tensions a bit but not usher in a new phase in the relationship. Khar made front page news not for her diplomacy but for her designer bags and well to do looks made prettier by her affable nature. For a moment it seemed a story more about fashion and woman power (her being the youngest ever foreign minister) - one that did have a soothing effect on political ties as well.
The designer bags soon made way for the men in suits keen to do some serious business. To boost trade between the two countries Pak’s commerce minister, Makhdoom Muhammad Amin Fahim visited India first time in 35 years and addressed businessmen at Taj Hotel (the heart of attack from across the border terrorists in 2008) to pave the way for granting Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India. Never mind the flip-flop, the tenor of the relationship had already got the facelift it deserved.
Keen Pakistan watcher and security expert Kalim Bahadur considers 2011 a crucial year for Indo-Pak ties. The feel good factor is evident. He said, “I think, in the overall context there has been a significant improvement this year between India and Pakistan. The aggressive mood in both the countries cooled down to some extent because of some major positive steps taken by the two countries, particularly the economic decision to give India MFN status.”
As the world watched India and Pakistan engage each other as never before, cricket - a traditional bone of contention between the two nations - too got a new face. While no cricket got played between the big boys but Indian blind cricket team had a lot to see in Pakistan. The Indian blind cricket team visited Pakistan for a tournament which lasted for 12 days. It took almost five years for an Indian cricketing team to visit Pakistan.
Fashion, business, cricket, and now it were the turn of the brazen beauties to steal the thunder. Veena Malik, who came to be known here first as ex of an ex-cricketer from Pakistan - now in the dock for alleged fixing scandal - re-invented the wheel and is going to seek Indian partners for matrimony in a reality show.
But that was pretty straight. Complexities and controversies, when it comes to India and Pakistan, are hard to keep at bay. What if this is not about guns and terror but about skin show? The latest round of rather friendly crossfire started over a nude photo shoot of Mailk that she denied she had posed all naked. FHM India, a male lifestyle magazine, published nude picture of Veena Malik on its cover page. However, earlier this year another Pakistani actress Meera had also stirred controversy when she accused an Indian filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt of abusing her, and later retracted. For Kalim Bahadur these episodes are exchanges between people of the two countries as Veena Malik is a popular star in the country now.