The goof up and the aftermath

The goof up and the aftermath

It is not the first time that such a serious error of judgment occurred from a top diplomat of Pakistan.


In response to the speech of Sushma Swaraj, Maleeha Lodhi flashed a photo of a Gaza girl whose face was peppered with injury marks. If she was trying to electrify the atmosphere and make an impression in the world about the brutality of the Indian forces in Kashmir, the effect went otherwise. Badly otherwise. Subsequent face-saving efforts by her and her team at the UN, saying that India is using diversionary tactic, and not focusing on the main problem, fell on deaf ears. She was trying to close the stable door after the horses had bolted. I am trying to wrap my head round about the idea of using that photograph. It seems overnight she had a discussion with her colleagues at the UN over the draft of the speech, and then suddenly someone dropped the idea of using some picture with pellets. Then a google search was done, and up came the 'impressive' and usable picture of the girl covered with injury spots. Finally, a drink went round the table, happy that they will punch India in the face, and expose her before the whole world. No one thought it fit to confirm the source of the photo. Perhaps, and this is not in a lighter vein, if the plagiarism issue had been taken seriously in the institutes of Pakistan, the day may not have to be seen of being accused of lying and misleading. An early training in being truthful about the source and a habit of giving credit to the actual source goes a long way in avoiding eggs on the face in the future. That no university  in Pakistan figures among top thousand of the world can, in one way, be traced to the habit of lying and stealing in research, and relying on second rate unverified information.

Not the first Time

It is not the first time that such a serious error of judgment occurred from a top diplomat of Pakistan. Not long ago, a former President of Pakistan read a prepared speech of a previous year, and only stopped midway, after finding out that the content did not seem to match with the current situation. No one had taken the pain of finding out content of the speech. Not far back in past, during a function in China as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Red Fort was shown as part of the Pakistan tableau. Anyway, that may not be a slip actually according to some Pakistanis, but the presenters did go away with red faces, and had to remove the blunder. And a more serious one was in the case of dialogue over Indus Water Treaty. When Pakistan raised objections against Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro electric power projects, arbitration was called with the help of the World Bank. Officials of both India and Pakistan met, and the decision, in one of them, went in favor of India. Well respected commentators from Pakistan blamed the sorry figure which the country cut not because the case presented was wrong or ill-founded but because those who were sent to represent the case had done a terrible shoddy job. The people had gone without substantial preparation demanded of interlocution at the international level. A slogan is a poor substitute for a statistic. Rhetoric is a weak alternative against rigid adherence to detail. Even if one forgets about the fake photo, the other things which Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN said, were crass generalizations. One fails to understand where from such careless preparation comes, when a bit of research can put together an effective argument, even if the latter is less sensational. A similar case of ill-preparation has come forward in case of Kulbushan Yadav trial. The International Court of Justice stayed the execution of the "Indian spy" because the case was not presented in the manner befitting the international standards. Now they have decided to hire a law firm to speak for them in the International Court of Justice. Add to this, the letter sent by the former High Commissioner of Pakistan in New Delhi, Abdul Basit, about the Pakistan ambassador in Washington, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhury. He calls the latter the worst Foreign Secretary of Pakistan ever because of the Ufa Joint Statement and the 'humiliating defeat' of Pakistan at the Human Rights Council.

Reason for Goof ups

Abdul Basit believes that the worseness of Mr. Chaudhury is because his "heart is not the right place." By which he is implying that Chaudhury's loyalty and patriotism, love for the country is uncertain. A serious charge indeed in a country infamous for treason trials but he is creating an insightful connection between perfectionism and love for the country. When you represent your country as a job, or a profession and not as your calling and service, then careless and sloppy mannerisms (and the consequent red face for the country) are expected. Love for the nation can arouse the deepest, passionate and logical statements. That is one reason why Maleeha Lodhi erred because at a level, not easily traceable with a bare eye, there appears to be a disconnect between what she wanted her nation to be and what she ended up making of it. If you know how your beloved will end up, you will make sure your act and speech match with the love you have for her.

Second, and more importantly, one which surpasses in importance to that of love for the nation is the general apathy towards detail and double check. A training of mind to look over again, verify, test and rehearse, openness to question and challenge go a long way in producing material of the quality which begets regard and respect at the highest level, and may even surpass the highest standards. Generalizations, categorical judgments and reliance on unchecked information can only create a name and fame which are at best left unremembered.

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