JLF 2015: Khurshid Kasuri on the necessity of Indo-Pak talks

  • Vishakha Saxena, Hindustan Times, Jaipur
  • Updated: Jan 22, 2015 21:20 IST

The need for dialogue between India and Pakistan took the spotlight during a session at the 2015 Jaipur Literature Festival with panelists Ahmed Rashid, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, G Parthasarthy and Anton Lieven.

Parthasarthy, the Indian Ambassador to Pakistan from 1998-2000, believes headway in talks is possible if Pakistan reverts to its policies from 2003, when it announced a ceasefire and remained loyal to it for about seven years. He stressed on the need for an end to infiltration across the Line Of Control and said Hafiz Mohammed Saeed needed to be told: "ghar main baitho" (sit at home).

"You can't have a dialogue when bullets are flying. Nobody hears the sound of the dialogue, everybody hears the sounds of the bullets," he said.

Pakistani militant-turned-journalist, Rashid, however, was quick to add that "all negotiations have only been successful in the midst of war and conflict." He talked at length about the improving relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan explaining that the Pakistani Taliban threat to Pakistan was so acute that the military, the ISI and the institutions of state had realised that something had to be done. "We can't keep sponsoring this war in Afghanistan because it is destroying Pakistan."

As for India-Pakistan talks, Rashid said that India not talking to Pakistan was "a really stupid thing to do."

"I mean Putin is talking to Obama right now!" he said, earning peals of laughter from the audience.

Orwell Prize-winning journalist Antol Lieven said that with 4,000 military deaths and the attack on "the children of the military" (in Peshawar) the Pakistan military will inevitably experience a change of heart.

Kasuri, Pakistan foreign minister from 2002 to 2007, said the expectation of talks between India and Pakistan and a resolution of conflicts was "not just a glimmer of hope but a lot more." Hailed as the man behind the Pakistani ceasefire in 2003, Kasuri stressed on the need for talks. "Narendra Modi has come (to power) on the basis of 'vikaas' (development). If that's going to remain the agenda -- and that must remain Pakistan's agenda -- neither country has a choice," he said.

As the session reached its end, moderator Suhasini Haider posed a question - what is Pakistan on the brink of?

"I don't want a neighbour to be on the brink," Parthasarthy retorted.

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