The former Pakistan National Security Adviser, Mahmud Ali Durrani, on Saturday advocated a multipronged approach to improve New Delhi-Islamabad ties including expansion of the composite dialogue; drafting representatives of security and intelligence agencies for the joint anti-terror mechanism and jointly probing the Mumbai terror attack.
Flagging terrorism as the most serious threat to both countries, Major-General (retired) Durrani said they had to fight it together, beyond usual rhetorical statements and blame game, as time was running short.
“Today, for the first time we face a common threat, a threat if not contained and rejected will squarely destroy us, piecemeal. It will destroy the secular credentials that our forefathers had enunciated for both our countries. Terrorism, religious bigotry, intolerance and a warped sense of nationalism are the numerous facets of this threat.”
Major-General Durrani was delivering the inaugural R.K. Mishra memorial lecture on “India-Pakistan Relations — Bridging the Gap” organised by the Observer Research Foundation here.
Acknowledging that the joint anti-terror mechanism had not achieved much, he said instead of using the media and accusing each other of supporting and abetting in terrorism, there was need for a serious catharsis between the intelligence agencies on both sides.
As for the Mumbai attack, he suggested a joint investigation team. “At some point in time we have to move beyond our mistrust. And that time is now.”
Major-General Durrani strongly advocated both Track-2 and backchannel work to improve relations and also suggested expansion of the composite dialogue to include the non-controversial fields of agriculture and energy — common to both.
Sir Creek and Siachen were ripe for resolution. He suggested the setting up of a “Joint Glacial Research Centre” while resolving the latter issue. In the same breath, he underlined that both sides should respect the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 in letter and in spirit.
Overall, during his 45-minute lecture, he suggested 15 steps including strengthening of the SAARC by taking a leaf out of the ASEAN/EU book; increased interaction among the media, the academia and businesspersons; and simplification of the visa process by abolishing police reporting and city-specific permits.
“Kashmir for Kashmiris”
While drawing the broad contours of thrust areas, Major-General Durrani also touched on the Kashmir issue. Assuring the gathering that he was neither pushing the Pakistani official line nor advancing a new formula for resolving the dispute, he said: “My only submission is that the people of Kashmir have suffered immensely; they need peace and space to rebuild their lives. I will support any solution which is acceptable to the majority of the Kashmiris. The bottom line — Kashmir for the Kashmiris.”