SEOUL - Between motorcades, conference rooms and security details, 44 world leaders (from the 53 countries attending), followed by 5,000 delegates and closely watched by 3,700 journalists, entered into three days of hectic scheduling, starting Sunday and extending to Tuesday. The Nuclear Security Summit 2012 is the largest-ever diplomatic event in Korean history. The summit is the second of its kind, first hosted in Washington in 2010. The 2012 conference was initially to have been hosted by Russia, but eventually came to be South Korea’s prize. Heads of the UN, Interpol and the IAEA are also present in Seoul for the star-studded diplomatic event. The summit itself though, is almost a secondary concern of the delegates, as such summits inevitably are.

With the dense concentration of so many world leaders, including but not limited to the President of the United States himself, everyone is anxious for an audience. President Lee of South Korea, is basking in the attention, with pictures of him pressing flesh and backslapping Obama, Manmohan Singh and Ban Ki-moon, to name only three of the 54.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Ms Khar and Pakistani ambassador to the United States Ms Sherry Rehman are representing Pakistan. Meetings with the Turkish President, President of Indonesia and dinner interactions with President Obama, Ban Ki-moon and others are just a taste of what the Prime Minister is up to in Seoul. The Pakistani delegation’s goal will be to convince those watching the summit, that Pakistan dreams of nuclear security, just like anyone else. Pakistan’s stockpile of an estimated 100 nuclear weapons have been increasingly marketed as the stuff of nuclear nightmares, whereas its hopes of nuclear-powered energy to feed its increasingly power-starved people, appear to have no chances of being translated into reality. To add salt to Pakistan’s wounds, India basks in a plutonium fired glow of affection from the US, with whom it shares a civil nuclear deal - despite the fact that it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has announced that it has no intention to be at any time in the future, either.

As much attention is being paid to body language, length of greeting, how elaborate the compliment is and how much time the meetings carry on, around the summit. Much of the headline worthy news thus comes not from the summit itself, but the bilateral discussions on the sidelines. Take for examples, the meeting between South Korean President Lee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. While unrelated to summit activities, PM Singh announced plans to set up a defence wing at the Indian Embassy in Seoul, a move which President Lee welcomed, along with a promise to increase trade between the two further than its already sizeable $20 billion mark, as well as a 33-point statement signed and witnessed by the two, in their capacity as ‘strategic partners’. Such incidents add to examples of India’s global ambitions. Its appetite for influence is growing by the second and its slow and steady, plodding progress towards this goal for the last few years has placed it in a position where just a little bit of acceleration will give it the momentum it has been hoping for.

This is President Obama’s third visit to South Korea, in as many years. With nearly 30,000 US troops stationed in the DMZ between North and South Korea, it is the most heavily guarded border in the world. As North Korea gears up for a rocket launch, yesterday’s front page of a Korean daily showed President Obama staring out at North Korea from the DMZ, with a pair of binoculars. The message seems to be, ‘I’m right here, in your backyard. You don’t scare me.’ He is gathering support for further sanctions on North Korea, with statements already released saying that food aid will be impossible if North Korea pursued the launch.

South Korean papers are enthusiastically embracing the summit, with pages upon pages of reports of country profiles, number of nuclear weapons each country has, stock levels of highly enriched uranium, Korean partnership details with all these countries (- even what the spouses of the world leaders will be doing while they attend the summit and the menu prepared by Korean chefs for official dinners and luncheons!).

The activity in and around the summit is emblematic of the (by no means revolutionary) concept that the world we live in is more inter-connected than ever before and countries which are doing well are moving towards improving the quality and quantity of links between themselves and others.

Pakistan stands to learn from the example of South Korea in the field of nuclear energy. Korea is pushing to expand its capacity to generate 50 per cent of its electricity by nuclear power by the year 2030. It currently generated 30 per cent from nuclear reactors, the primary source being coal. Its planned response to ever-increasing demand and environmental concerns is to almost double the number of reactors it has - from 19 to 23. Following a $20 billion deal with UAE, South Korea is now the 6th largest reactor exporter in the world.

The summit officially kicks off today. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is the fourth scheduled speaker. His recommendations will be added to others to produce the Seoul communique, which is to be announced at the end of the summit by President Lee.