Praise for My Books

"Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a gifted writer of great promise. I have a gut feeling we have a new star rising in Punjab's literary horizon. She has an excellent command of English and a sly sense of humour."
- Khushwant Singh on The Long Walk Home

"An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder."
- India Today on Earning the Laundry Stripes

Friday, 29 July 2011

Pakistan's Birkinned Brahmastra

Ancient Indian texts mention the concept of Brahmastra, a weapon conceived by Brahma, the creator of the universe. So potent is it that once discharged, neither a counter attack nor any defense can stop it.

In colloquial terms it can imply deploying an emissary who is irresistible. Think Cleopatra within a rolled-up carpet!
On 27 July, Pakistan, eschewing its nuclear stockpile, launched a brahmastra against India - its winsome new foreign minister. 34-year-old Hina Rabbani Khar was in India to hold talks with her Indian counterpart, the 79-year-old S M Krishna. The foreign ministers of the nuclear-armed neighbours are holding their first talks in a year, hoping to resuscitate a peace process that was snuffed out by the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.

The lone surviving gunman from that attack was a Pakistani national and India has directly blamed Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) for orchestrating the coordinated shooting and bombing attacks.

Lately, Pakistan has found itself facing recriminations from several directions.

The United States ferreted out Osama bin Laden from a villa in a military garrison town a short distance from the national capital Islamabad. Expectedly, relations between the two nations are at a record low. US is the largest source of bilateral aid to Pakistan and pressure is building to cut the high level of financial assistance.

India’s claims have received a recent validation. At hearings in a Chicago court in May 2011, David Headley, an operative of the Islamic militant outfit LeT, has confessed to the role of Pakistan’s spy agency in executing the terror strikes of 2008.

To add to Pakistan’s woes the FBI has identified that Ghulam Nabi Fai of the Kashmiri American Council was campaigning for self-determination in Kashmir at the direction of the ISI which provided him at least US$ 4 million to influence American policy on the issue.


If that weren’t enough the bomb blasts in Mumbai on 13 July have again renewed questions about Pakistan’s willingness to crackdown on militants on its soil. The coordinated rush-hour explosions in India’s financial capital shook the nation and set people hyperventilating on the foreign hand behind them. While the Indian Government has not assigned any blame preferring to let the investigation run its course, the implications for the proposed talks between the two nations looked dire.

Pakistan is, to use a cricketing terminology, on a sticky wicket.

In turn, Prime Minister Gilani has responded on front foot. He has rubbished Headley’s claims that he attended his father’s funeral, and dismissed Fai as belonging to “Indian Occupied Kashmir”. He reiterated that India and Pakistan had no option but to talk and claimed credit for the “no blame game” after the recent Mumbai attacks on account of his interactions with his Indian counterpart. Critically, barely a week before the crucial peace talks in India, he ended a five-month job vacancy by swearing in the nation’s first woman foreign minister, and also its youngest.

In a move that would have won the approval of Groucho Marx, Mr Gilani has shown that he has his principles, and if folks didn’t like them, he could demonstrate others.

If reports in the media are anything to go by, Mr Gilani’s brahmastra has paid off. The charm offensive is working as Indian media - vigilant as a pit bull - is gushing over the Foreign Minister. Her sartorial choices have been applauded, she has been described as “a perfect combination of beauty and brains” and her physical similarity to a Bollywood actress is being furiously discussed online.

“Pak Puts On Its Best Face” noted The Times of India, the biggest-selling English-language daily while a popular Mumbai tabloid remarked cheekily, “Pak bomb lands in India”, referring both to the history of wars between the countries and the strategic use of a brahmastra.
Indian media is agog with new CBMs expected in the wake of the talks. You’ll be forgiven for mistaking CBM as Comic Book Movie discussion - after all we have a running gag about how the two counterparts keep holding talks about future talks when they shall resolve the contentious issue of Kashmir. This time around there is hope that the infinite regress might yield something concrete as the two foreign ministers are expected to announce new confidence building measures (CBM).

Admittedly, the Pakistan Prime Minister’s brahmastra is working. Stay the course you have signaled, Mr Gilani. You’ve made a dubious India media, and by extension, public, believe that henceforth Pakistan shall make love, not war.


  1. I think Indian public should wake up.I think she is just a PR exercise.India should not forget the crimes Pakistan has perperated on us.She does not represent the condition of Pakistani women.She is of the 'elite' class.But, alas India has forgotten everything..IFS should remember Chankaya's sayings.

  2. @ Rajiv: But what tremendous PR! Gilani knows he is in a soup and the country is mired in chaos and he pulls off a coup by sending Ms Khar - Indian media cast its fangs, and rationality, perhaps?, aside as it drooled over the winsome pak FM. Kudos to her!

    Somebody, meanwhile, needs to sit our journos down for an incisive talk on how to stay the course.

  3. Media fawning today, media slinging mud tomorrow! In the end, substance will matter.

    On the other hand, looking at the history of Pakistan, the lady getting too famous, won't help her, some crackpot will take a crackshot at her!

  4. @ Sunil Deepak: The media shenanigans are also indicative of the love-hate relationship between the two nations!

    There's no denying that Ms Khar represents the Pakistani elite (power, prestige, wealth from land) whose first concern should be addressing the widening gap between them and the poor masses. However, even the wide swathe of population devastated by 2010 floods has not been compensated - just one Birkin could feed several villages ...

  5. @ Manreet- you got a point there.

  6. Well written Manreet!

    There is something though, that I found worth mentioning from Ms. Khar's visit.

    We need to have younger and more dynamic politicians in such positions -- Mr. Krishna hardly has the drive required of a foreign minister. If we fire the top four people in India's cabinet (MMS, Pranab-dada, Chiddu, and SM Kishna), the average age of the cabinet will dramatically go down. Hopefully, we will end up with a government that is not asleep at the wheel. All the time.

  7. Pakis always like to bomb India, whether through their men or women Lolz. I only hope henceforth we will find more actresses in the fold of bollywood.

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  9. @ Desi Babu: Thanks!

    Agree with you, and the thought was only underlined by the difference in ages between the Indo-Pak FM's: 79 and 34. Ahem!