Mani and Hafiz: Truth or Bare?

I understand that when a politician is on a private visit to a country, he does not speak on behalf of the country. Mani Shankar Aiyar, by virtue of being a former diplomat based in Pakistan, is knowledgeable about the country. It seems that he has lost touch with it, and even his home country.

Sitting on a panel discussion in a studio in Islamabad, he was confronted by Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed through a phone link:

"Giving India MFN-status is not correct in any manner because there are already big problems that haven't been resolved, including the Kashmir issue. At this moment, the dams being made by India will create a crisis in Pakistan."

This is the man considered the mastermind behind the Mumbai 2008 attacks. His position would not be much different.

It is Aiyar's comment that is typically on a limb:

"There are some persons like Hafiz Saeed in our country who do not want things to move forward but thankfully the ordinary people want our ties to improve. We can improve our relations irrespective of what his (Saeed's) opinion is. We want him to be caught and taken to a terrorism court."

By getting into this same-same maze, he is in effect implying that the Hafiz prototypes in India are against any ties with Pakistan.

We do have a consolidated saffron terror in place, but it is essentially and rather tragically targetting people within the country.

It is pertinent that a couple of days prior to this studio peace, a piece of news which has much to do with Hafiz Saeed went largely unnoticed. The amicus curiae, advocate Raju Ramachandran, told the Supreme Court that Ajmal Kasab was not part of a larger conspiracy for waging war against the nation.

As reported:

'Maintaining that the prosecution has failed to prove the case against him beyond doubts, he told he bench that his right against self-incrimination as well as his right to get himself adequately represented by a counsel to defend himself in the case have been violated during the trial.'

Kasab said he was brainwashed like a "robot".   

What would Mr. Aiyer's position be? Does he believe that brainwashing takes place only in the area of terror? This is where we need to look at the scenario holistically.

Saeed's opinion is not an isolated one and neither is it restricted in both countries to fringe elements.

There are two crucial segments.

1. The overtly nationalist middle class that believes that an enemy gives credence to identity.

2. Those who take what appears to be a cynical view that

a) the terror industry is over-rated
b) peace through confidence building measures does not do away with insecurity. These placebos cannot and are not meant to address diplomatic issues.

Almost all politicians have spoken about such initiatives and gestures. Does anything tangible come out of it?

In the Islamabad studio, it was Hafiz Saeed who spoke honestly. Mani Shankar Aiyar is being hailed for his brave move in confronting him, when he was just aiming aimless darts.

Perhaps he might like to see the large queues outside the High Commissions in India and Pakistan to understand how difficult such 'private' visits are for those he is claiming to speak on behalf of.


  1. FV,

    QUOTE: "it was Hafiz Saeed who spoke honestly. Mani Shankar Aiyar ... was just aiming aimless darts."

    I agree with you there. I wonder if you agree with the following statement. If you don't, it is expected. No issues!:
    "Narendra Modi is the only politician who is entirely honest and forthright. It is a different matter whether he is politically correct or not. He deserves admiration for that. Those opposing him incoherently on spurious grounds of state-sponsored, manipulative sekulaarism are basiclly shooting arrows in the dark. Peace through an enforced (and fake) sekulaarism will never solve the basic issues arising out of religious indoctrination and en bloc voting on basis of religion."


  2. FV,
    I saw the entire episode on you tube last night.
    To my surprise,Mani handled the situation very well. Only guy who would have handled this better would have been Arun Shourie.
    Hafiz Saeed was surely shitting bricks , he said India is building Dams (where , we are too busy selling our spectrum in flea market).For every dam, we have 20 howling medha Patkars...he didnt say a word on kashmir problem or ISI training camps. He sounded very scared to me on Courts issue.Overall , he was brought in just to spice up the program , spoke like a mullah ,nothing better.
    Mani's Urdu has travelled miles..good.
    He also made a lot of sense on Army Issue.
    I will award this round to Mani ..Totally.

  3. F&F:

    If you say Modi is a terrorist and caused the deaths of hundreds, and the opposition is sitting in a studio discussing it, then yes I will say he is being honest and forthright. If not, then he is the CM and has responsibilities and those aiming darts are citizens of the same country. If you don;t agree, no issues.



    Of course, he was there to spice it up, and he would not discuss crucial issues. I don't think Mani should have been giving interviews in the first place. And to have a dialogue with Hafiz Saeed was out of line. I do not agree with you about how he handled it because I don't think he should have done anything at all.

    He is an old hand at such hero-giri, esp in Pakistan. Sometime ago, Tharoor did his bit, but his was an official invite.

  4. FV,

    This is cunning insinuation. You seem to imply that an honest and forthright person can only be a terrorist, never a politician. Just the other day, you were spewing fire at Anna Hazare and Co for calling names to the entire political class.

    Please be consistent. Regardless of whether the issue involves Modi or not.


  5. F&F:

    I do not need to insinuate anything. It is you who have cunningly used the Modi name here when the topic was entirely different. So, if you want to dish out these analogies, then live with what Modi can mean to some due to his acts. Where is your concern about these? Oh, yes, you don't have to express it. Fine.

    Will you call a Congressi honest if he calls BJP fluff fluff?

    I have been consistent, and don't need your advice. It is there in the archives.

    PS: I have stated I find it easier to deal with the Modis and Thackerays than their supporters or the fake 'liberals'.

  6. FV,

    I am sure you can do absolutely fine without my advice. But only a mirror can make us realize that the mascara is running! Now if that is the current rage in fashion, then I must say I am out of date!

  7. No worries. You are right up there with the fad of showing imaginary mirrors to imaginary mascara so that you don't have to look at the eyes, forget vision.

    And when you show the mirror, you cannot see yourself. Remember that

  8. FV,

    Good you saw the reflection! The disagreement of competing imaginations and the destruction it threatens to bring about is anything but notional.

    Problem arises when one imagination is given more valdity (or is given the benefit of more relaxed standards of evaluation) over the other during the discourse.

  9. I have my own mirror to see the reflection, and that is real not imaginary, for one is striving to look.

    There is no way to quantify or qualify one imagination against another, so the validity or whatever else is problematic only if you want the other to remain lobotomised and be spoonfed your imagination.

    I see that you are not answering the queries about the 'relaxed standards' you apply, so just quit it. Your high horse would bolt in a jiffy if only you had not tethered it.

    Now, since you like having last words, go ahead. I need to put my imagination to better use.

    If you have the time, you might like to also respond to my comment on your comment on the Robert Vadra post! Of course, only if you can make the time for it...


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