Vice President Hamid Ansari expressed optimism over the prospect of India and Pakistan resolving their differences and said "looking to the future" rather than the past was the key.
Ansari said India and Pakistan "almost got there" in solving their problems during the tenure of former President Pervez Musharraf and asserted that attempting to normalise relations with Islamabad has been the characteristic of every Indian government.
The Vice President said South Asians have a strange way of solving their problems, referring to the problems India had with Bangladesh. "For many years with our eastern neighbour Bangladesh, we had problem and yet a few months back we managed to resolve most of them. So I think, looking at that we will be able to resolve the question of Pakistan because the SAARC can make headway in these two countries which are the biggest," he said.
In an interactive session after delivering an address at Prague Security Studies Institute, he said: "During General Musharraf, we had a series of back channel exercise with him. Very successful bilateral exercise. We almost got there which very few knew about. We almost solved the problem".
Ansari said relations of India with Pakistan were more complex and the partition of the two countries was more painful than what the erstwhile Czechoslovakia witnessed. "Here you call it velvet divorces. But in our part of the world in our living memory divorces have been more painful, lingering memory of the divorce are poisonous," he said. The Vice-President said despite Pakistan's "underhand tactics", successive Indian governments have been trying their best to improve relations with the western neighbour.
"We have some problems with Pakistan, we fought wars with Pakistan. Pakistan has resorted to what can be described as a series of unfair, underhand tactics in their bilateral relations with us. They tried war, they tried insurgency, they tried sabotage, they tried terrorism. Each of these things they has been tried but failed," he said.
The Vice President said the solution of the problem lies on the acceptance of existing realities and "looking to the future" and not to the past. "So I am not pessimistic on the question of Pakistan. Yes, many people say that we should not very optimistic at all. It is a complex process and I think we will get there," he said. The desire to normalise relations with Pakistan has been the characteristic of every Indian government, he said, citing the example of Atal Bihari Vajpayee who undertook a historic bus journey to Lahore.