‘Secret Diplomacy’

Whatever be the truth (or the lack of it), and the intent of the claims of a former intelligence chief, what has once again come to fore are the dangers of something commonly referred to as secret diplomacy, and its potential of being used in tactics as well as strategy. Disquiet cannot altogether be dismissed among a people with memories of assurances of a ‘fair deal’ by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah during the Beg-Parthasarathy talks. Both Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Mirza Afzal Beg repeatedly assured people that the final decision on Kashmir would be discussed with the masses. But the masses came to know about the infamous Accord through the media, and are naturally apprehensive of an en core.

Since the leadership often talks of Islamic principles, they ought to know how and why the Holy Prophet (pbuh) never left scope for secret diplomacy and always took his pious companions into confidence. The Caliphs (RA) too would go to the advisory council (or shura) to discuss matters of grave importance. There is no scope for withholding vital information from individuals who matter. The present leadership enjoys the support of the people.  The leaders cannot operate in isolation. They have to meet people to put forth their point of view.

Absolutely no harm in meeting politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats and civil society activists, but why make a secret of meeting important people? No one would object to leaders discussing issues with intelligence officers if they do it openly and apprise people of the developments later. When leaders hold secret meetings and are perceived to be concealing vital information, doubts are bound to rise.

One way for the leadership to avoid public misperceptions sought to be created by various means is to adopt transparent policies with regard to negotiations and discussions with its interlocutors, whosoever they be.