Friday, this week, saw the conclusion of the 17th SAARC Smmit, held in Addu City in the Maldives. Addu citys resorts have probably never seen so many suits in its equatorial climate before and probably never will, unless a convention of undertakers comes to town. The reason for the selection of relatively far-away Addu Atoll for the summit was made by the President of the Maldives, Mr Nasheed most probably in response to his party losing a local election from that area. Cue eight heads of state, their delegations and entourage and members from observer states touching down at Gan Airport and making their way in 6 car motorcades each to the secured islands of Shangr-La resorts and Haarethra for two days of bi-laterals, tri-laterals and conferencing. As harried delegations tried to squeeze in hurried meeting after meeting to obtain maximum benefit from the event, the feeling remained that all eyes on SAARC were in fact on the two most powerful countries there, India and Pakistan (yes, we do count as important). This time around, I got an opportunity to observe the difference between the work ethic and style of the two regional powers, which I will attempt to describe here. After all, Pakistanis are masters of reverse engineering - when we see something that works well we believe in paying the compliment of 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. And there is no doubt the Indian side at SAARC were the perfect example of doing something simple, well. The Indian approach to their work is meticulous. From the diplomats, to the journalists, planning, setting modest, achievable goals and securing equally modest wins through burning good old-fashioned foot leather is the strategy of their success. The speech of the Prime Minister appeared to have been written to portray an image of a humble billionaire and benevolent sugar-daddy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's speech was peppered with beautiful phrases like, "I recognise that India has a special responsibility". The Indians appear to have designed their entire SAARC strategy to behave like what they eventually want to become: a superpower in the region which can handle responsibility with grace and humility in accordance with their 'stature and strength. Their seduction lies in the fact that India boasts a thriving economy, which in PM Manmohan Singhs own words, has maintained a respectable growth rate for the last four years. In his speech, he announced a few modest proposals such as a convention for a dozen travel agents, which India would host, a hundred scholarships, a travelling exhibition on the history of South Asia. In short, nothing that a large multi-national company could not do with the greatest of ease. Is this an indication of Indian 'stature'? Not really, but it was something small designed to show that India was the magnanimous 'chaudhry' distributing largesse to the peasants. After all, the chaudhry only gives a few sacks of wheat, not the whole farm. In doing this, they succeeded in appearing to be in a position to deliver 'great responsibility with great power', as befits a confident, soon-to-be-superpower, who doesn't want to forget it's less fortunate friends on its rocket rise to the top. Pakistan, by comparison, was to put it in an analogy, the prettiest girl at the party in the dowdy dress and unflattering accent. Exhibiting tremendous potential and receiving the kind of attention reserved for someone genuinely important, whose relevance is expected to continue to increase, Pakistan was observed with keen interest. Trying to deal with every subject under the sun, the Pakistani delivery at SAARC lacked focus, simply because, through the best of intentions, it tried to deal with too much. In contrast the Indians pick something small and goes at it all out. These small wins are nothing to thumb ones nose at, added up they equal progress. Where, from the Indian side, every word was measured and weighed, the Pakistani side by comparison looked unprepared even though this was not in fact the case. Where the Indians were well organised, thorough, well-arranged, patient and fully staffed (with diplomats called in from other countries' high commissions to supplement the delegation staff), Pakistan gave the impression of a huge, influential and ultimately ineffective organism. At SAARC, all eyes were on India and Pakistan, who are expected to set the tone for the entire summit. India was ready to take advantage of this expectation, Pakistan was less able to capitalize on this opportunity where there was only one other country to overshadow it. Where Indian media complained about the impossibility of getting a quote out of their quiet, reserved ministers, they complimented the Pakistanis for being much more vocal. The disadvantage in this is that while the quotes from the Indians were few, weighed, measured and carefully worded, ours were barrelled into in the heat of the moment, throwing out facts, policy, platitudes and criticism in random order in an effort to construct a winning argument. I suppose what I am trying to describe is a feeling that the world is listening and waiting to hear us. But what do we want to say? A lawyer who cannot vocalize an argument in front of even a sympathetic judge will lose the case. The world is listening and we need to make an elevator pitch. The question is what do we want to say to them? Email: rnizami@nawaiwaqt.com.pk