Former Pakistan Minister calls for dialogue

Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. File

Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. File

Speeches calling for genocide of Muslims have a potential to disturb the South Asian region, said former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. In an address at the launch of a book edited by veteran peace activist O.P. Shah, Mr. Kasuri called for greater people-to-people contact and starting of bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan.“Things have really nosedived. I was aghast... and I am sure a large number of Indians of goodwill were, when in Haridwar there were speeches made — that were unbelievable — asking for genocide of Muslims. All these have an impact on the region,” said Mr Kasuri, referring to the hate speeches made in a “Dharma Sansad” in Haridwar in December.

Mr. Kasuri served as Foreign Minister of Pakistan between 2002 and 2007 pointed at deteriorating bilateral relations as both sides continue to refrain from engaging each other in a formal bilateral dialogue.“War is not an option. Not a nuclear war which only a mad man will think of. Not even conventional war is possible,” said Mr Kasuri indirectly referring to the military incidents of February 2019 after the Pulwama attack.Mr Kasuri argued for convening of the summit for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and said India’s arguments on notconvening the regional summit does not make sense as both sides continue to participatein the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) which is led by China.

“First we need to resume dialogue. There is a need for an uninterrupted and uninterruptabledialogue. It’s amazing that India and Pakistan can meet each other in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisationwhere China is undoubtedly the most powerful and the richest country. But it amazes me that India does not want to hold the SAARC summit where it is the richest and the biggest country -This is for Indians todecide.” said Mr Kasuri.Mr Kasuri who served as the Foreign Minister during the rule of General Pervez Musharraf said both sides should station correspondents at least in each other’s capitals so that citizens on both sides can see each other in a “humane” way as the current dominant media narratives are shaped by majoritarian groups. He argued for more interaction at the Track II level and recommended that such dialogues should focus on media professionals. “I have been disappointed by the electronic media of India,” he said.Addressing the event, former External Affairs Minister of India Yashwant Sinha said, “People of Pakistan want peace with India and people of India want peace with Pakistan. Let the civil society in both countries start discussion on contentious issues.” Mr Sinha, who served as Foreign Minister in the Vajpayee government had coordinated with Mr Kasuri when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Islamabad on January 6, 2004 for the SAARC summit. During the visit, Mr Vajpayee and General Musharraf had “agreed to commence” the Composite Dialogue from February 2004 that was aimed at finding “peaceful settlement of all bilateral issues including Jammu and Kashmir”. Mr Sinha referred to the Joint Press Statement of January 6, 2004 as a “seminal agreement”.

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 10:25:40 pm |