Blaming Delhi for derailing India-Pakistan engagement, former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri Friday said the dialogue discontinued when Government of India (GOI) decided to have a new red line – meeting between Pakistani leaders and the Hurriyat Conference.
He said that the militancy in Jammu and Kashmir will eventually spread to rest of India.
Speaking at a seminar on India, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir organized by Centre for Peace and Progress here, Kasuri said GoI’s objection to meeting of Pakistani leaders and officials led to derailment of dialogue between the two countries.
“Talks did not proceed as we did not want to rub salt into the wounds of the Kashmiri people by not involving them,” he said explaining that Pakistani government had to justify the engagement with India and this was the only way to do it.
“We had to tell our people that we have not ignored them and we feel for them. People in Pakistan were very upset, and the opposition and extremist elements were giving impression that ‘we have done a sellout’. If we involve people of Kashmir we will have cover in Pakistan after all it is about them. Involvement of Hurriyat Conference in any meaningful dialogue process is must. You cannot move forward till then,” Kasuri said.
He hailed former Indian foreign minister K Natwar Singh, who according to him, convinced his government on opening channels and routes for people of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides to meet and interact.
“This helped Kashmiris to meet with Pakistanis and Indians as well and led to an atmosphere conducive for movement forward”, he said. “Indians think that Pakistan is crazy about hurting India. That is not the case”.
Stating that Pakistan is not interested in creating a war front in its eastern border, Kasuri said, “Enough acrimony has been there. Both countries have fought near nine wars including the build ups”.
The former foreign minister, who was the co architect of the most successful engagement between India and Pakistan from 2003 onwards, said militancy in Kashmir may not remain confined to Kashmir but spread to other parts of India.
“My fear is it may go to their side as well,” he said and blamed agencies in both countries for destabilizing each other’s country.
Asserting that the four-point formula was very much discussed by PPP and PML-N governments much after Parvez Musharraf’s departure, Kasuri said it is not true that the formula was abandoned by Islamabad.
On writing extensively about the framework in his book he said, “I wanted to put everything on record, the bench mark of the process which was interestingly agreed upon by the deep state on both sides”.
War, he said is no solution, but only political and economic stability can help to be better.
Kasuri said New Delhi had agreed on four points including self-governance and demilitarization.
“We wanted this line to remain just a line on the map rest would be thrown open” he said referring to softening of Line of Control across Jammu and Kashmir.
Kasuri in a veiled manner welcomed the appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as interlocutor on Kashmir.
“If GoI thought that this appointment is sensible solution, let it be. I am told PM Modi is focused. Whatever is the internal politics of India that is none of our business,” he said.
Kasuri asked both sides to respect each other’s government whosoever is running them.
Pakistan, he said, can never be isolated at international level.
“It is part of a larger block now that is stretching from central Asian countries to China, Iran and Afghanistan” he said adding that he would not welcome a Taliban government in Afghanistan, but one based on Afghanistan constitution.
Former chief Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) A S Dulat said Pakistan still issues visas to Indians, but India has stopped doing so.
“Where is the people to people contact” he asked.
Dulat strongly advocated for a forward movement on Kashmir. “They say talks and terror cannot go together but I say that talks and terror can go together”.
The former point man of GoI on Jammu and Kashmir said talks should never stop if “we are serious and sincere in resolving Kashmir”.
Former union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said the Kashmir is full of discontent.
“It is wrong to say that the discontent is limited to Pakistan proxies only,” he said.
Calling for creating space for trust building and then only dialogue can pave way, Aiyar said, “Every Kashmiri wants Kashmiri Pandits back. This is none of our (Indian) business who runs Pakistan.”
Earlier, head of Centre for Peace and Progress O P Shah welcomed the participants and explained how important it to talk and take the dialogue forward at civil society level.
Pakistan High Commissioner to India Sohail Mehmood also attended the seminar though briefly.
Others who spoke on the occasion included Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak, Prof Saifuddin Soz, M Y Tarigami, Nizamuddin Bhat, Imtiaz Mir, Ashok Bhan, Aarti Tickoo Singh, Jyoti Malhotra and Shujaat Bukhari.