28 September, 2020

The Power Play Overs

The Indian PM’s cricket diplomacy gambit has opened a window

The Power Play Overs

Away from the breathless excitement and nail-biting tension of the India-Pakistan semi-final match, the mood inside the Long Room at the Mohali cricket ground was remarkably different—warm, poetic and contemplative. An encounter of another kind was afoot here, a meeting over dinner between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani. Flanked by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul, Manmohan Singh recited an Urdu couplet to welcome Gilani and his entourage. It set the mood for the two sides to partake of the lavish spread—and for informal parleys. Gilani too responded with a couplet and profusely thanked the Indian PM for hosting him as also creating the opportunity for the two countries to interact at the highest political level.

Manmohan spoke extempore at the dinner. A senior Indian official present at the meeting told Outlook, “He spoke straight from the heart, but it wasn’t all emotion.” He acknowledged the many difficulties in establishing...



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