Raisina Dialogue has been a prominent feature of Indian establishment since 2016 aimed at projection of Indian geostrategic and geo-economics clout. Raisina Dialogue 2018 was held at Delhi where India tried to project her global image with fans fare and rhetoric.

The main theme of dialogue this year was “Managing Disruptive Transitions: Ideas, Institutions and Idioms”. Some of the major panel discussions focused on Indo Pacific, emerging realities of global connectivity including Chinese strategic initiative of OBOR, terrorism, Afghanistan, cyberspace and its strategic control and geo-economics.

It was surprising that Mr Ram Madhav, Natioanl General Secretary of BJP, in a panel discussion on ‘Strat-Con: The Emerging Security Dynamics in the Indo-Pacific’, highlighted that 21st century was an Asian century and a century of civilizations. He pointed out that the diminishing power of US led western nations was a reality, he almost insulted and embarrassed the American delegate by pointing out the so called American way is not going to be the way forward in this century and this region.

The debate also brought out the thought of Eurasian school in Russia (led by Alexander Dugin and Vladimir Putin) which proposes a global order centered on the Eurasian powers and which is ready to accommodate all cultures and faiths without imposition of the McWorld.

While Pakistan was not invited officially, however Husain Haqqani attended one of the major sessions titled ‘The Terror State: Innovative Solutions to New Threats’. Husain Haqqani, true to his (RAW) salt was able to bash Pakistan with his ‘tongue in cheek’ discourse; the other discussants in the panel included Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Major General retired Amos Gilead, Director of Political-Military and Policy Israel and Vayachelav Nikonov a member of Russian State Duma and a political scientist.

Ironically the discussion turned out to be a match between Bipin Rawat and Husain Haqqani in who bashes Pakistan with more vigor. Haqqani took pains to point fingers at Pakistan(without naming it but mentioning it through his wily style of reference to Mumbai attacks and Afghanistan) especially targeting the security establishment and even concluded that that US and the west will be embarrassed if they develop any working relationship with Pakistan military on the issues of Afghan security. Haqqani, pointed fingers at China by saying that there are some very powerful states in the region, who use UNSC to block efforts to peruse terror sponsoring states and their surrogates in.

It was heartening to see that Pakistani perspective on Afghanistan was also shared by the Russian representative, despite planted questions by Indian establishment ,the Russian delegate was able to defend the non-western view and in turn helped a positive perception about Pakistan. Mr Vayachelav Nikonov laid down Russian views on terrorism; One, functional states and legitimate governments could fight terrorism more effectively, even if they were autocracies. Two, it was a bad idea to destabilse and change or attempt to change regimes in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Three, terrorism thrived in ungovernable spaces and idea to create terrorist entities like Al Qaida by the US in Afghanistan and Libya morphed into mother of terrorism in Afghanistan and North Africa.

The discussion, which may have been aimed at Pakistan bashing, turned out to be more confused as far as International community’s objectives in Afghanistan are concerned. It figured out that Pakistan was not part of the problem but part of the solution; the quagmire that International community and the Western World finds itself trapped into in Afghanistan is a result of almost half a century of war in Afghanistan, and, despite US led coalition’s efforts to bring peace through the barrel of the gun, peace in Afghanistan could not be achieved without making all stakeholders and regional players to sit on one table and talk.

The Israeli delegate Major General retired Amos Gilead, Director, Political-Military and Policy, talked of methods and strategies to tackle terrorism and was of the view that every state confronted with terrorism was ultimately supposed to do it on its own; it may also be noted that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu while addressing the inaugural session of Raisina 2018 avoided dragging Pakistan into his discourse. Even during his interview with India Today, where Raj Chengappa tried hard to make Netanyahu comment on Pakistan, avoided it totally by saying that he could not drag Pakistan into discussion being the foreign minister of Israel. As reported by Tribune, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed suggestions that his country’s partnership with India is a threat to Pakistan, saying, “We (Israel) are not enemies of Pakistan and Pakistan should not be our enemy either.”

Another important panel discussion, The Afghan Poser moderated by Yalda Hakim(BBC News) included Mr Hamid Karzai, Indian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs VK Singh and Igor Morgulov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. While Hamid Karzai did point out issue related to dealing with Pakistani military and intelligence, the overall message coming out of his deliberation was positive as he thanked the Pakistani nation for hosting 3 to 5 million Afghans in last last 30 years, fighting the war on terror within Pakistan and the cultural affinity between two Nations

Mr Igor Morgulov contested the question on Russian assistance to Taliban and acknowledged that Russians had some contacts with the Taliban and was ready to help a dialogue involving Afghan Government, regional stake holders and the Taliban. Mr Morgulov pointed out that unmarked helicopters were bringing in foreign fighters and Daesh in Northern Afghanistan, despite the air space being controlled by the NATO. He insisted that NATO failure in Afghanistan was being exploited by making Russia and Pakistan as scape goats and Russia will not allow it to happen. Mr Hamid Karzai was almost embarrassed by a question from an Afghan student based in Washigton, when he said that Afghan Politics has become a predatory mafia and was milking all resources and funds meant for Afghan people, through rampant corruption, poor governance and warlord-ism.

Coming back to the serpent at Raisina Hill, Mr Hussain Haqqani, who like some other intellectuals of Pakistan leaves no stone unturned to malign Pakistan in any international forum, I would also like to ask Pak-bashing liberals, give one example where an ex ambassadors from India has belittled India in an international forum, and, would any ex ambassador from India do it in a forum hosted by Pakistan? It was also clear form deliberations by Husain Haqqani that he was frustrated by the re-establishment of strategic contact between US and Pakistan.

While it was unfortunate that Pakistan was not invited in a forum where issues directly or indirectly related to Pakistan were discussed, it may be noted that Pakistan needs to hold such forums for exchange of ideas and hearing of Pakistan’s story. It can be concluded that Raisina Dialogue’s discourse on Pakistan remained highly biased and one sided.


The author is a freelance journalist.