Plural India comes together to condemn attack

Sudheendra Kulkarni (right) presenting a memento to former Pakistan foreign minister Ahmed Kasuri in Mumbai on Monday. Photo: Vivek Bendre  

Mumbai does belong to Maharashtra, but it also belongs to the nation — moreover, it is an international city, said Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the Observer Research Foundation, in Marathi sending a firm message to the Shiv Sena, which is said to be behind an attack on him on Monday.

He was speaking at the launch of a book, Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy, by Pakistan’s Former Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.

An organiser of the event, Mr. Kulkarni had been at the receiving end of threats and abuse by Sena activists in the past two days warning him against holding the programme. When he did not budge, they blackened his face with black oil on Monday morning. He wore that face throughout the day, addressing all the press meetings. At the launch, he came bald, clean and confident. It took barely an hour to wash the black colour and change clothes.

His introductory speech was a careful mix of Marathi and English, made purposely to send a clear message to the Sena, which claims to champion the cause of sons of soil. “Mumbai is a tolerant, democratic and multi-faith city. Diversity of the city must be protected. It is not upon any individual or organisation to trample upon these values,” he said adding that Mumbai stood for India-Pakistan dialogue for peace.

“Gandhi and Jinnah, both spent maximum of their years in Mumbai. It is the place to undo the mistakes of the past,” he said.

Mr. Kasuri chose not to talk about the Monday morning’s incident. Instead he had words of advice for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I have not interacted with Mr. Modi much, but he was voted in on the development agenda. Internal harmony and peace on border will ensure more foreign investment in India to fulfil that promise. Development will happen if the country has genuine peace,” he said.

Recounting the memories of India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr. Kasuri said that Mr. Modi would realise that Mr. Vajpayee’s course (to peace) was the right one.

Mr. Kasuri defended his actions of engaging separatists from Jammu and Kashmir in talks in his capacity as Foreign Minister of Pakistan. “If you want violence, you chose not to talk to anyone. If you want peace, you talk. I had no ulterior motive behind my meetings; rather it was in order to convince the people. It has been acknowledged even by the former RAW chief,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 10:07:45 AM |

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