Face it, India and Pakistan will have to think of new and inventive ways to broker a lasting peace. To our chagrin, Pakistan is, on the face of it, one or two steps ahead of us. In what could be a new chapter of in-your-face diplomacy, the Pakistanis have used the good offices of a renowned face reader, who is also the director-general of South Asia, to get a look at what Indian officials were thinking as talks began again last week. He nipped across to study the fetching visage of Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and was also in Delhi earlier this year with an official delegation.
How can we respond to this? We could send along Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who will be able to look beyond the face and into their respiratory systems. Or we could send across the hugging sanyasin, Ma Amritanandmayi. Nothing like a feel of diplomacy at close quarters. But what is puzzling us is why this face-reading officer has not been used to greater good in reading say, the bushy-bearded visage of Osama bin Laden. Could his burning eyes give away his location or his attack plans? Could the face reader not have told Pakistan’s ally Uncle Sam that General Stanley McChrystal was really thinking the lads in Washington were a bunch of wusses? Of is his expertise race-specific, i.e. those of subcontinental origin?
Now that we know that we can’t take Pakistan at face value, should we countenance this rather unorthodox element in the talks? Perhaps. We may not always see eye-to-eye but we will don’t mind moving into a phase were we don’t have to have a face-off. At the moment, all we seem to have are several faces on both sides, most of whom have launched a thousand slips.