Book review: Abdul Basit, Hostility: A Diplomat’s Diary on Pakistan-India Relations

Published date01 August 2022
Date01 August 2022
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 349
presumed behaviour is derived from counting the number of times the North Korean
leader mentioned ‘economic development’ in a public speech in 2019. Considering
that Kim Jong Un does not have a track record of being reliable in the international
arena, his public statements should not be trusted at face value; they might be
aspirational in nature or purely empty rhetoric aimed at assuaging the domestic
crowd. The fact remains that under Kim Jong Un’s leadership, the nuclear doctrine
has been reinforced to ensure total political independence from foreign forces. Thus,
for Kim to give up on this doctrine cannot be simply a matter of economic interests.
Since the denuclearisation talks between Washington and Pyongyang failed in
Stockholm in October 2019, there have been numerous reports on resuming the
negotiations, especially following the meeting between South Korean President
Moon Jae-in and US President Joe Biden in May 2021. The situation, however,
remains a stalemate as North Korea shows no sign of willingness to negotiate at this
point. Against this context, Bang’s book, despite its limited geopolitical calculations,
does present a practical angle through which politicians could try to entice North
Korea back to the Six-Party Talks. Such a political-economic perspective of conflict
resolution may be especially useful in consideration of the severe food shortages
and economic contraction in North Korea during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, Transition beyond Denuclearisation makes a valuable contribution to
resolving the North Korea question in the long run. A denuclearised North Korea
operating as a functional market-oriented economy, with full support from the
major players, is Bang’s vision for the future. Nonetheless, the protracted nature
of this conflict highlights the fact that although the stakeholders’ policies towards
North Korea have at times changed depending on circumstances in the post-Cold
War era, these policies are anchored by the same principles and largely unchanged
national interests. It is therefore impossible to detach the solution from the
intricate geopolitical affairs.
Hong Kong Nguyen
Hong Kong Nguyen
Centre for Interdisciplinary Social Research
Phenikaa University, Hanoi, Vietnam
Non-resident WSD-Handa Fellow, Pacific Forum
Abdul Basit, Hostility: A Diplomat’s Diary on Pakistan-India Relations.
HarperCollins, 2021, 331 pp (Hardback). ISBN: 978-93-5422-645-8.
DOI: 10.1177/23477970221098499
Ambassador Abdul Basit’s recent in-depth memoir, Hostility: A Diplomat’s Dairy
on Pakistan-India Relations, is divided into eight chapters. After the introductory
chapter, Chapters II–V cover Basit’s 4-year assignment as Pakistan’s High

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