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Controversial Meeting

by Newsweek Pakistan

File Photo. Adem Altan—AFP

Pakistan’s media is helping in the country’s international isolation

On Wednesday Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Indian industrialist Sajjan Jindal, a personal friend and emissary of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, much to the displeasure of Pakistan’s media and politicians. There were three types of reactions to the meeting, none of them forgiving toward a prime minister hounded by an opposition hoping to oust him before he completes his term in office. TV anchors, waxing patriotic, refused to adopt any neutrality ordained by their profession and hosted “analysts” who had a field day blasting the prime minister as yaar (friend) of India—a convenient rhyme with ghaddaar (traitor).

The Jindal visit was poorly timed, occurring at a period of vicious politics that students of political science refer to as tertium gaudens or the “rejoicing third party.” The opposition refused to let the opportunity slip and went through the catechism of India’s perfidy: Prime Minister Modi’s hounding of India’s Muslim population; his disgusting extermination of the pro-Pakistani Muslim youth in Kashmir; the ongoing cross-border firing along the Line of Control that often results in civilian casualties; and, last but not least, New Delhi’s alleged funding of the Taliban and Islamic State that kill Pakistanis. The whole frog-chorus was aimed at the “rejoicing third party” whose retired reps constantly appear on TV, buttressing the resignation demand from the opposition.

What could the Nawaz-Jindal meeting mean anyway? It was obviously not a secret. The prime minister was not selling Pakistan at a price that can buy him more flats in London, nor was he back-biting the Army or asking for help against an opposition readying itself for street assaults on the economy he is desperately trying to keep afloat. The most likely explanation is that the meeting was part of backdoor diplomacy efforts, which every ruler in Pakistan—including Generals Zia and Musharraf—has engaged in to the grateful appreciation of the rest of the world. What Pakistan’s media involuntarily wants is to intensify the international isolation their country finds itself in—an unfortunate hallmark of a failed state.

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