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Opportunities missed and opportunities seized in the chronicle of international diplomacy in modern history provide two outstanding illustrative examples.
After centuries of enmity and the colossal destruction inflicted by two devastating world wars in the last century, France and Germany seize an opportunity to turn a new page in their relations, which eventually blossomed into the European Union and is today a major factor of peace and stability in Europe.
Equally, on the contrary, the catastrophic failure of the West to consolidate the peace dividends of the end of the Cold War by inviting Russia into a “common European home” (to borrow Mikhail Gorbachev’s memorable words) is threatening to possibly trigger a new cold war or even morph into hostilities.
Today, India and Pakistan are also poised on a threshold of similar Big History in the region. Seizing the emergent opportunities could make all the difference. Both countries are endowed with abundant diplomatic talent to perceive this reality that is still below the radar.
The imperatives of development are increasingly felt in both countries in their post-pandemic mindset, which is also leading to a new awakening that there is nothing like absolute security in the life of nations.
Without doubt, the US Special Representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad’s call with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Sunday can lead to a passage opening into a “rose-garden”. The timing of Khalilzad’s call needs to be understood properly. He is on a regional tour that has already taken him to Kabul and Doha and is arriving in Islamabad later today. In Kabul, he had met with President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan statesmen and in Doha he confabulated with senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Khalilzad has unveiled in Kabul a US plan about a “participatory government” to be formed in Afghanistan as an interim arrangement of six months for the drafting of a new constitution leading to a final settlement. In a swift follow-up, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with Ghani and since addressed a letter to him (and to Abdullah Abdullah).