The best of intentions are at times not good enough. Who would ever doubt Mani Shankar Aiyar’s intense and unflagging desire for India and Pak-istan to be conjoined in a permanent bear hug? It seems officials of the Karachi air traffic control (ATC). It turns out that Mr Aiyar’s ‘aman ki asha’ couldn’t cut much ice when it came to the chartered aircraft he was travelling in landing in the Pakistani city. The ATC forced the plane to hover over Karachi for nearly 45 minutes. It ran short of fuel and and without a go-ahead to land on Pakistani territory, the plane returned home.
Was the secret mission of the Karachi ATC — which may be taking orders from the Rawalpindi-ISI-jihadi nexus — to make the Pakistan-loving Mr Aiyar slowly but surely start on a new trajectory of becoming suspicious of Pakistani hospitality and bonhomie? Or was it just a liberal ATC official who had misunderstood the content of the Congress MP’s book, The Secular Fundamentalist, and wanted to drive home the point that Pakistan needs to be rid of all kinds of homegrown and foreign fundamentalists? Or could it be because Mr Aiyar was travelling with fellow Rajya Sabha MP and Board for Cricket Control in India (BCCI) vice-president Rajiv Shukla, not a favourite ‘aman ki asha’ ambassador among disgruntled Pakistani cricket lovers after the drubbing in the World Cup match against New Zealand. Officially, it turns out that the Karachi ATC wasn’t aware that Mr Aiyar’s visit had been cleared by Islamabad.
Whatever be the reason, Mr Aiyar is unlikely to turn into a ‘Pakistan murdabad’-spouting Pravin Togadia. His fondness for the country is strong and the chances of a partial un-partitioning of the subcontinent (he isn’t that het up about any ‘aman’ with Bangladesh). The lesson that he may learn from the ordeal is: let’s take the Wagah route next time.