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It's Musharraf all the way

By Amit Baruah

NEW DELHI: The General is everywhere. The Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, can be seen on every single news channel across the country. Whatever can be captured "live" has been broadcast real time.

A visitor from Pakistan always attracts attention in India. But Gen. Musharraf's media profile, it would appear, surpasses that of any other Indian leader or visiting dignitary. As the environment remained positive, the Government rolled out the red carpet for him. In July 2001, the President returned to Pakistan without visiting the Ajmer dargah. Today, he and his delegation were transported in Indian Air Force (IAF) choppers to Ajmer from Jaipur.

All in public domain

From the menu at the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh's 200-guest-strong dinner at Ashoka Hotel to the size of his suite at the Taj Hotel, virtually nothing has been left unturned by the media. It's all been placed in the public domain. Official India has turned to the media to ensure that the hype doesn't outmatch the expectations from the visit. But such efforts have fallen on deaf ears, as channels put out "exclusives" on what the General will do and where he will go.

The General, too, is conscious of his media image, and is known to consult fashion stylists in Pakistan for what he should be wearing on a particular occasion. The frequent apparel changes — from suits to sherwanis and now salwar-kameez — suggest that he takes his stylists seriously. Before setting off from Islamabad, the Pakistan President spoke in measured terms about his visit to India, stressing that the current environment was far more congenial than his travel to Agra four years ago.

There seems to be every indication that the General's "style" on this occasion can only add "content" to the positive mood in India-Pakistan relations.

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