It has been a fabulous February for Pakistan. A country that has struggled with narrative, role and identity post 9/11, has emerged as the leader in the comity of nations. In the span three days, it has controlled the narrative on terror, redefined its identity and unabashedly projected its role as an envoy for peace.Imran Khan, in his first major foreign crisis, gained ground, no civilian leader in memory has. There are natural parallels drawn with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) on the foreign front, and for good reason, because there is not much to brag about in between the ascent of these two giants on the global stage. Three important speeches were made by Khan after the tragic Pulwama attacks. He is not a gifted speaker like ZAB, but his speeches will go a long way in shaping his legacy; informed by the events we have lived through and the circumstances of his regime. Addresses in the parliament and outside, were resolute, sharp yet empathetic. Those speeches also give us an insight into the mind of Khan, focused more on substance than optics. And we wish for a balance there. We would prefer less edits on recorded speeches and no silhouettes, of cameraman and his assistant, lurking on the frame’s glass hanging on the wall, behind Khan, as he delivers his addresses.With Khan at the helm, Pakistan had its Kennedy moment. This, on the global stage, when Trump had to wrestle another domestic fiasco with Cohen’s testimony and little to show for the summit in North Korea, Macron’s ineptitude to govern exposed by the Yellow Vests, Brexit that continued to dominate May’s embarrassing term in office; perhaps second only to Chamberlain, lack of political will to lead on global stage by China and an ominous absence of stewardship from India; having triggered a miscalculated adventure. Our Kennedy moment was different. It was sweeter. Without caveats, with two countries coming close to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile crisis, Khan announced to release the Wing Commander Abhinandan. The release of the Indian soldier culminated in one of Pakistan’s greatest stories since its independence. DG ISPR’s statement, that started it all, will forever be, etched in the memory of Pakistanis. It was a soldier’s response, but one that was carefully calibratedThe release of the Indian soldier culminated in one of Pakistan’s greatest stories since its independence. DG ISPR’s statement, that started it all, will forever be, etched in the memory of Pakistanis. It was a soldier’s response, but one that was carefully calibrated. He promised a surprise, an intent to respond and the capacity to do it successfully. Our soldiers delivered all of that and more; much to the voluntary outpour of homage by people in different rural and urban centers of the country. Scrambling for a story to spin, while the Indian premier himself did not face the media, the Joint Media Briefing is one that gave away everything about things left unsaid. Trios-in-uniform looked clueless – wishing they never had to manage media; even after such inordinate delay.Nationalism armed with politics becomes quite radical. As a human construct, that has for most part, lost its relevance today, nationalism is only relied on now for incumbency gains in the realm of politics or to drum up war hysteria. While it may result, and often does, in electoral gains in the short run – in the longer run the damage caused by the rhetoric drawing on radicalized nationalism is irreparable. Modi is the latest proponent, to use the route of nationalism, for political expediency. BJP has carefully crafted nationalism in otherization. Premised in Hindutva, this narrow manifestation of nation of India today, is at odds with the ethos and historical genesis of India. With one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, in fact, second only to Indonesia, such an articulation also, as a collateral, views the minorities [equal citizens], including the Muslims, as suspects – an imaginary fear only compounded by modern India’s obsession with its neighbour – a Muslim majority country earshot away from being an authoritarian Islamic theocracy, like Iran or Saudi Arabia. But Pakistan is neither! And there is an increasing appreciation inside Pakistan to that effect. While Pakistan is embracing pluralism, India seems to be shunning it.Tagore criticized the Indians for adopting xenophobic and militant nationalism even in colonized India. The nation state, he told audiences in the US, “is a machinery of commerce and politics turn[ing] out neatly compressed bales of humanity.” For Tagore, nationalism, was the greatest affront to humanity. He said “India has never had a real sense of nationalism…it is my conviction that my countrymen will truly gain their India by fighting against the education which teaches that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity.” India has its problems and we will leave Indians to deal with them – Pakistanis who rejoiced on embarrassing India, how would they feel if the tables were turned. And they will be. That is how wars unfold. You can’t be on top every day – in each battle. With all the euphoria hinged on ethno symbolism, imagine, there was no retaliation or one that was unsuccessful? Yes, we sued for peace while seeking revenge and didn’t see any contradiction there; wouldn’t it be better if people on both sides, cared more about ideals of humanity, than the disease we call nationalism?The writer attended Berkeley and is a Barrister at Lincoln’s Inn Published in Daily Times, March 5th 2019.