PM Modi’s Pakistan collusion charge: Khurshid Kasuri calls it ‘polarising’
Former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri says “even the name of Gujarat” was not uttered at the gathering at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house, which focused only on India-Pakistan relations.world Updated: Dec 13, 2017 16:07 IST
Former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri, at the centre of a controversy after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was involved in a conspiracy with Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar to influence the Gujarat election, has described the accusation as “perplexing and saddening”.
Kasuri acknowledged he had attended a dinner at Aiyar’s home in New Delhi on December 6 at which former premier Manmohan Singh, former vice president Hamid Ansari, former army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, several retired diplomats and the Pakistani high commissioner were present.
But he said “even the name of Gujarat” was not uttered at the gathering by any of the persons present. The gathering had focused only on India-Pakistan relations and ways to improve them.
“And even if there was any conspiracy, please keep in mind that these were not just people from the Congress party. There were several journalists such as Prem Shankar Jha. What is their connection to the Congress party? What is Gen Deepak Kapoor’s link with the Congress?” — Khurshid Kasuri
“This is very perplexing and saddening,” Kasuri said during an appearance on the talk show “Apas ki baat” on Geo News on Tuesday night.
“Where top former foreign ministry officials are present, what will they discuss about the Gujarat elections with me? I can’t understand this, even the name of Gujarat was not taken there,” he said.
“And even if there was any conspiracy, please keep in mind that these were not just people from the Congress party. There were several journalists such as Prem Shankar Jha. What is their connection to the Congress party? What is Gen Deepak Kapoor’s link with the Congress?” he asked.
Kasuri, an old India hand who served as foreign minister in military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s regime, said he had gone to New Delhi at the invitation of the local branch of the Aspen Foundation of the US to talk on India-Pakistan relations. Aiyar, with whom he had studied in Cambridge University, had organised the dinner in his honour.
“A total of 18 to 19 people were there and the theme was Pakistan-India dialogue and ties, and how they could be improved…Except for Manmohan Singh, who said he did not think it was fit for him to talk and remained silent and just listened, the others spoke and after that I was asked to answer their questions,” he said.
“I gave my answers and I said what I have always said – that Pakistan and India have no option but to hold a dialogue and to find a solution to the Kashmir issue through bilateral talks. This was what was discussed and even the name of Gujarat was not taken.”
Kasuri noted that India was no longer an issue in Pakistan’s elections and said it was “unfortunate” that Pakistan constantly crept up as an issue in Indian polls, including the recent elections in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh.
“This makes it clear that may be through polarisation, the BJP thinks it will get more votes. It is very unfortunate that there is such thinking in such a big country that is the world’s second most populous and described as the biggest democracy.”
He added, “A private gathering is being used in such a way in the hope that polarisation and hatred towards Pakistan will increase and votes will be gained.”
After Modi contended that the Congress was colluding with Pakistan, former premier Manmohan Singh demanded he should apologise for spreading “falsehood and canards” to “score political points”.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office too has responded to Modi’s allegations, describing them as “utterly baseless and irresponsible”.
“India should stop dragging Pakistan into its electoral debate and win victories on own strength rather than fabricated conspiracies, which are utterly baseless and irresponsible,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal tweeted on Sunday.
First Published: Dec 13, 2017 15:35 IST