By Jaideep Sarin
Islamabad, (IANS) He is 80-plus and a seasoned politician and she is all of 34 years of age. But when it came to a face-off in front of the media, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar clearly scored over her much elder Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
This was quite evident at the joint press conference of both leaders at Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs here Saturday. Khar spoke at length about various issues and forcefully put across her country’s point of view. She did not refer too often to her written statement.
Krishna, on the other hand, read out his statement and could not match up to the effectiveness of his younger counterpart. In fact, in one of the questions put up to Krishna by a Pakistani journalist, the articulate Khar came to his rescue. In another instance, Krishna was asked a question by a Indian woman journalist. He got ready for a reply and then asked: “What was the question?”
When they went away and came back
At the joint press conference of both foreign ministers, a cultural agreement was signed by senior officials of India and Pakistan. As the media, which was present in good numbers, got ready for the press conference, both leaders and officers started to move out without saying a word. The media, which was eagerly awaiting the event, was taken aback. But things soon became clear when the organizers removed the table, on which the agreement was signed, and replaced it with two lecterns that were put up for the leaders to address the media.
Both leaders were taken to an adjoining room as the organizing officials put the things in place.
Rehman Malik’s mood
Even though he was not supposed to be part of the bilateral talks between Krishna and Khar, Pakistan’s controversial Interior Minister Rehman Malik was never out of the picture.
Malik, who made an appearance at the dinner reception hosted by the Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal at Serena Hotel, took centrestage for the signing of the visa agreement. On both occasions, Malik seemed in a happy mood, obliging media with sound bytes.
After the signing of the visa pact, Malik shook hands with Krishna and then held his (Krishna’s) hand high and remarked: “This is the sign of friendship.”
After seeing off the Indian minister outside the interior ministry building, Malik, who seemed to be in a good mood, again obliged the media with sound bytes.
With the new visa agreement in place, one really hopes that things will now not be as chaotic as the event to put it on record. At the visa signing function at Pakistan’s interior ministry office Saturday, the conference room was over-flowing with media persons and officials. People could be seen on every inch of space available, including chair arm-rests and windows. An enthusiastic video cameraman even banged into one of the photographs hanging on the wall.
Even the dignitaries had to squeeze into the room to carry out the all-important ceremony.