The Hillary Show

Posted on November 3, 2009
Filed Under >Deeda-e-Beena, Politics
17 Comments
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Deeda-e-Beena

The extremely well choreographed show is over and the performer is returning in the comfort of her dressing room in the air, with satisfaction writ all over. Indeed it was a command performance amply facilitated by the traditional Pakistani fervour and hospitality.

Hillary is a talent of all seasons and all occasions. Her just concluded act in Pakistan was a side of her rarely seen. She has carved her place in the performance domain leaving Sarah Palin far behind. Her eyes are clearly on a much cherished ball, unlike the Alaskan Hockey Mom who has succumbed to making hay and lots of money while the sun continues to shine.

The performances on the side of Pakistani groups and audiences must be equally recognised and credited. The head to head encounters with TV Anchors and Talk Show Hosts and another one with the all female TV Anchors; the open forum with youthful students of Government College University Lahore; the one-on-one TV interviews all showed a class act unexpected and unknown of Pakistani civil society. In all these groups’ relatively younger persons and in particular the younger women were shining and that is a tremendous signal of hope for the future.

The fact that Hillary’s handlers focussed on these groups also shows the perceptions the Americans have about Pakistani civil society. Absent were the talking heads of the print media who have squirreled their way into the high-tech electronic media of modern times but lack the ability to think on their feet and speak convincingly and coherently in real-time live telecasts. It also confirmed in stark reality, the disconnect Pakistan’s establishment shows towards these groups – the youth; the women and the new breed of media names and faces.

While at times Hillary was caught fleet-footed in her response, her counterparts also often showed a degree of timidity, particularly when she offered empty goal posts where the follow-up questions went a begging. One such opportunity was when she pronounced that the aid to Egypt and Israel approved by the US Congress had similar requirements; she should have been challenged if the kind of language of KLB existed in the legislation for aid to these countries as well. Another occasion when she rhetorically stated that Pakistan can always refuse this aid, she should have been reminded that “true friendships” avoid such entreaties.

She walked into lion’s dens and hornet’s nests single handedly and unsupported by aides or embassy experts and faced everything head-on. She went to the business world tycoons, the lawyers, the saints and sages, the opposition politicians and ceremonial government occasions undeterred and apparently unprotected and, defended her American positions as one would expect of her. There she also spoke with alacrity and coherence on issues intrinsic to Pakistan that none of the political leadership or intellectuals dare touch upon in such manner and given the short time at her disposal.

The Secretary of State was bright-eyed and bubbling upon landing in Islamabad. At the end of three days of Blitz her face and demeanour betrayed tiredness. But there was also present therein the unmistakable hallow of a catharsis – a Mona-Lisa like smile of satisfaction.

It was also clear from her pronouncements as she went along her journey that she was changing her understanding and perceptions of Pakistan and the dynamism of its people. That’s where rest the core and mutual benefits of her visit.

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17 responses to “The Hillary Show”

  1. Keith says:

    Where you see hope in the spirited questions of the students, we in the West despair at their hostility.

    Pakistan never let’s a good deed from a friend go unpunished. The US has pitched in more in aid and arms into Pakistan than any other nation. Yet, the hostility of Pakistanis has gotten worse not better.

    China makes token gestures and sells (not donates) arms and is considered an ‘all weather’ friend.

    Should we the invest conclude from this that the way ahead to speak loudly, invest almost nothing and make sure we sell not give away weapons to Pakistan?

  2. Meengla says:

    Good comments by @Kamran S. M and @Harry Putter!
    Yes, where is the great Chinese with their loads of foreign exchange reserves?! A mere $198 million into Gwadar Port’s initial development and a few power plants and other ‘business’ deals (usually not harmful to the Chinese businesses) are peanuts compared with how much the Pakistani economy is dependent upon the West. And that after at least 40 years of Pak-China close-friendship.

    Numbers are helpful in making facts. Math is perhaps the only near-absolutist force.

    About Hillary’s trip, there is nothing Americans can do to pull a paranoid nation away from its best leisurely activity: Conspiracy Theory. I just came back from Pakistan (3 days ago) and there was a widespread belief that the Talibans are supported by Americans. When I asked as to what would Americans gain by arming the Talibans when they could cross the border into Afghanistan and kill (very precious) American soldiers there were no answers. When I asked as to what would Pakistanis say if Americans again ‘desert’ Pakistanis with the Afghanistan problem (ala 1989)–leaving the region is a big option in American debate now–there are no answers.
    If you want to know what Pakistan should do then read the Dawn’s columnists at http://www.dawn.com . Too bad, they are a minority in a sea of hollow patriotism and over-religiosity.

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