Former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh has said he was concerned when he heard about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s plan to visit Pakistan and was relieved when he shelved the idea.
“It is tempting for the Prime Ministers of India to think that they can solve all the problems with Pakistan and the Kashmir issue and win the Nobel Peace Prize. But it is never going to happen,” said Mr. Natwar Singh, at a panel discussion that recalled the contributions of former diplomat and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s advisor, the late G. Parthasarathi, to India’s engagement with Pakistan.
“We must go on talking to them. But I have no illusions on Kashmir. The Pakistan Army will not accept improvement of relations with India as the rationale behind having a huge Pakistani Army then disappears. Their army has had a good time for the past 65 years,” he added.
Mr. Singh said that Jawaharlal Nehru selected G. Parthasarathi, who was popularly known as “GP”, for diplomacy and Indira Gandhi appointed him as her advisor after P. N. Haksar, because they were convinced about his judgment “which was sound 99 per cent of the time”. “He was gentle, but tough. I can say we had two Foreign Service gurus then, P. N. Haksar and GP.”
GP’s namesake and former diplomat and strategic affairs analyst G. Parthasarathy remembered GP’s role in the Emergency when he came to the rescue of journalists at the receiving end of the Government’s repressive tactics. He also recalled GP’s views on engagement with Pakistan. “GP used to say that when you have two neighbouring countries formed on different ideologies, you are dealing with difficult problems. He told me: ‘Don’t think the problems can be solved in your lifetime, but the problems have to be managed’.”
Mr. Parthasarathy recalled GP’s commitment to the Constitution and his belief that solutions to pressing political problems should not come at any danger to India’s unity and integrity. He cited the 1974 Indira-Sheikh accordsigned by GP as a representative of the Indian Government. It restored Sheikh Abdullah as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.