Life is Precious

Source: Alamy/The Guardian

Source: Alamy

It may be a painful experience overall, and it maybe overrated, but there are certain things about life which make it so precious.

One of the reasons life is precious is precisely because of that painful experience.

What makes life so precious is your time with your loved ones. And there is not a second of which I would want to trade with anything, especially death.

But just when you start taking it for granted, and especially come close to taking it away, you realize how precious life is.

 

Yes, indeed, I want to live.

For every single second that I can be with those I love.

 

Farewell Tribute To Cameron Munter

Source: US State Department

While it sounds rather ridiculous for commoners to be interested in the office of diplomats, I mean what and who comes and goes, there are certain individuals that come across in this profession every now and then which are hard to ignore. One such person has been Ambassador Cameron Munter who has served in Islamabad from October 6, 2010 until he announced his early resignation on May 7, 2012 and left for the United States on July 24, 2012. Charge d’ affaires Richard Hoagland is performing stand-in duties for him.

Now I write this as a Pakistani national and someone who at least aspires to be if not is a citizen of the world. But even regardless of these viewpoints, I see the term of Ambassador Munter, a Californian who loves desi food, in Pakistan rather charming. I know it has been a while since he gave up his position, which happened in July 2012 actually, and this post has been overdue as I have been looking to write about it ever since.

I have observed Ambassador Munter to be by far the most interactive, publicly outreaching and friendly American ambassador in my living memory. The rest of them were either too dull or too cruel or too quiet in public. Of course, they all must have been heard loud and clear in the offices of Pakistani decision makers. Even if there were other ambassadors who had been as much active, certainly no one would have been so much outspoken and accessible to the media.

This is important because his term in Islamabad was marked by one of the most turbulent events in the history of Pakistan-US relations, especially due to the US Navy SEALs raid on Abottabad to assassinate Osama Bin Laden, the secret memo affair, the Raymond Davis killings and the continued drone strikes in the tribal areas, which have become a trademark of the Obama administration warfare.

Not to mention the NATO attack on Pakistan Army Salala checkpost on the Afghan border on November 26, 2011. I recall Munter appearing frequently in popular Pakistani talk shows and expressing his regret over the unfortunate incident while still not using the word “apologize”, which was clearly deliberate, with great emphasis. Tough job. We witnessed that thin line between being sorry and apologizing. Such is the nature of US-Pakistan diplomatic relations.

As a matter of fact, he handled affairs in one of the toughest conditions that a diplomat could ask for, when anti-American sentiment in Pakistan was on the rise. Similar difficulties were faced by his Pakistani counterpart Hussain Haqqani. Here is Munter’s last appearance on Pakistani TV.

Pakistani media had actually been hailing Munter for leaving his office for being disturbed at the continued drone strikes and avoiding an apology for Salala despite the public outrage in Pakistan, which is denied by the US Embassy in Islamabad as he is said to have stepped down for personal reasons, but there has been consistent rumor about that in the media throughout the latter part of his term. Even foreign media reported it, which really makes you wonder about its validity because usually you can safely consider what the State Department is telling you to be lies unless it is about attacking some country.

I am not sure how much a diplomat should be involved with his assignment emotionally, especially when it comes to the military objectives of a campaign, and we are not even sure if Munter was, but I can acknowledge that Munter was apparently more human and more humane of any of the US ambassadors that I have noticed. His public relations were at least, and that is what matters at the end of the day. The general public is least bothered about what goes on behind closed doors.

However, I am not sure if it is necessarily a good thing for a diplomat. I guess in the ruthless and Machiavellian world of diplomacy, you need to focus on your interests and objectives and get the cold hearted kill and go on your own way. I do not doubt Munter’s abilities as a diplomat a bit, but then again there is no reason to believe that he succumbed to his emotions at any time.

But he was certainly sincere in making an attempt to reach out to the people of Pakistan, and to improve bilateral relations.

That is important.

I don’t care if he was fine with the drone strikes or not. I also don’t care if he agrees with Obama’s warfare or not.

But what I care about is his gestures of friendship and I think that must be reciprocated.

Ambassador Cameron Munter, you will be remembered.

I am sure you won’t forget Pakistan.

Failed Diplomats, Diplomacy and the Press

Source: misz007.livejournal.com

When Diplomats need to get anything done, they are not really bothered about what the general public would think of them. What is more important is what the states thinks of them. Diplomats deal in politics, but they are not exactly politicians. They are discrete but not always politically correct. They look after the interests of their states but not always the interest of their people. That depends. But they take care of their own interests, at least.

However, when they need to get anything done, interferences can really prove disastrous to their cause. This is one of the greatest flaws of the openness of the modern day diplomatic practices. But much more than that, the media. This has been happening more frequently in the recent years. However, that has not changed the art of diplomacy itself and things get done as they used to in the past.

But sometimes the kind of coverage that media the offer to diplomats and diplomatic processes can damage their work quite a bit. Especially when it comes to spilling out the beans pertaining to what the diplomats have been talking about in private. Media entities such as the Wikileaks have created a tremendous impact on the world of diplomacy. Well diplomats, welcome to the Age of Information, and Technology.

However, All diplomats secretly hate the press. Some do so openly. Actually, you would hardly be a diplomat if you really loved the press. Let alone be a journalist, which really makes it an oxymoron. But some diplomats do become journalists or columnists after they retire. The better ones become consultants and lobbyists. Actually, you can never tell diplomats to retire. They choose to retire themselves.

Some of them had actually foreseen the troubles of the future.

Today the greatest evil—and therefore the most immediate—is the press.

Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich of the Austrian Empire                      (1773 – 1859)

Ah, how the diplomats miss the good old days when there was nothing like modern press. Prince von Metternich was the Chairman at the Congress of Vienna and said that at a time when clearly the threat from the media was not half as much as troubling as it is in the 21st century.

However, let us not forget that the press is also a tool for diplomacy. What can be used against you, can be used for you and vice versa. Therefore, the press is your greatest backstabbing machine, while it serves as your propaganda mouthpiece. This is what gives a literal meaning to the expression “War of the Words”.

Learn from the press. If and when you run out of content, create content. But if you underestimate the press, it is not always unsure of what it is doing. Actually it almost always is sure.

Diplomats who fail to change with time, adopt new techniques, adapt their stance and approach and accept new challenges are doomed to fail.

In the world of diplomacy, everything happens for a reason. Even if it is nothing. Therefore, if you see some smoke in the press, there is always a suppressed fire managing to surface some of its flames through the rubble piled up to cover it. Diplomatic scandals are the same and if a diplomat faces the music, it means that he or she did something terribly wrong as far as his or her own interest was concerned.

Diplomats who don’t watch their back pay dearly for it. Brutal truth, digest it if you can. Diplomacy and Backstabbing go hand in hand. Diplomats must choose their allies wisely and should be even more careful with the people who they call or consider their friends. Never trust people who are too hungry for attention. Or never trust them too much.

Diplomats cannot afford to have such friends. Or at least cannot afford to trust them with their lives. With friends like these, who needs enemies.

I respect diplomats, marketers and pimps.

Their jobs are not easy. But you have to be sure that you don’t get stabbed.

The world of diplomacy is just so amusing and entertaining. That’s what drives them. Apart from the kill.

If you are not a good liar, you can leave diplomacy to your grandmother. But if you do fail, you need to retreat safely.

I think you are pretty much defined by how and where you retreat.

Diplomats are, after all, humans. They can make mistakes too.

But then again they must never make mistakes unless on purpose.