I would like to respond to some of the points raised by M.K. Narayanan, former National Security Adviser, while reviewing my book, Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove (“Khurshid Kasuri’s flight of fancy”, The Hindu, November 5). It may be pertinent to point out that Mr. Narayanan was regarded as a hawk. Even at a time when the peace process between India and Pakistan seemed to be doing very well, he issued a hard-hitting statement to which I refer in my book as ‘A Case of Good Cop/Bad Cop?’ (p. 238).
When I raised this matter with Shiv Shankar Menon — later India’s National Security Adviser and then India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan — who I always found very positive about the peace process, he told me, “the Indian establishment believed that they could do business with President Pervez Musharraf. The general thinking of India’s establishment was that the President was guiding Pakistan towards a liberal and progressive future. Therefore, engaging with Musharraf would help promote enduring peace in the region” (p. 241). Interestingly, I had a good working relationship with all of India’s National Security Advisers, including and Mr. Menon. I am at a loss to understand why I did not have an opportunity of interacting with Mr. Narayanan. Only former Prime Minister Dr. Singh would know the reason. I met Mr. Narayanan after I left office when he was Governor of West Bengal and we had a very cordial conversation while going down memory lane and recollecting the progress of the peace process during the tenure in which both of us held office. I now come to some of specific points raised by Mr. Narayanan.
Mr. Narayanan has said that “Kashmir takes up significant large amount of space in my book.” I have listed nine war and near-war situations that Pakistan and India have had to face, all directly or indirectly connected to Kashmir. We have had to endure almost persistent tension along the LoC (Line of Control). Surely, an attempt to resolve the matter in a manner that satisfies a large majority of Kashmiris, Pakistanis, and Indians should be welcomed and should not be considered unreasonable or obsessive? If it were only a Pakistani obsession, what would explain the phenomena easily discernible to anyone who follows the Indian media (not just Pakistani) and watches its television coverage of Kashmir and the state of affairs there? There is no doubt that a large part of the Kashmiri population in Jammu and Kashmir is unhappy with the current situation. Even leaders like Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) and Omar Abdullah of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference — parties which regularly take part in elections, have emphasized on many occasions that their participation in elections in Jammu and Kashmir did not mean that they had accepted the current status, but emphasized that the status of Jammu and Kashmir needed to be resolved by Pakistan, India, and the Kashmiris. The position of various factions of the Hurriyat, the JKLF (Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front), and others is self-evident.
No “new ideas” on Kashmir?
The book describes the international situation; the situation in Kashmir; my interaction with Kashmiri leaders; the implications and importance of Article 370, as Kashmiris explained and which had an impact on the outcome in the framework regarding self-governance on both sides. I have highlighted 11 or 12 important features on which this framework rested, including joint mechanism, visa-free travel for Kashmiris, free and fair elections, demilitarization, the challenge of non-state actors: centers to wean militants away through DDR (de-radicalization, disengagement and rehabilitation), cooperation in hydroelectricity and the water sector, monitoring and review process, conversion of the LoC into a mere ‘Line on the Map’, and all of this and more, to be climaxed by the signing of a Treaty of Peace, Security and Friendship like the Élysée Treaty between Germany and France. Also, it was agreed that neither party would claim victory. What other new ideas does Mr. Narayanan wish me to come forward with, particularly when both former Prime Minister Dr. Singh and former President Musharraf have gone on record to say that they had come very near reaching a solution along the lines detailed in my book and referred to above? No perfect solution to Kashmir, which would satisfy 100 per cent of Kashmiris, Pakistanis, and Indians, is feasible. Both the governments at that time felt that this was the sort of framework that a large majority of Indians, Pakistanis and Kashmiris could accept. Why should I go fishing on a frolic of my own, searching for newer ideas?
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(Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri was Foreign Minister of Pakistan from 2002 to 2007. A shorter version of this article appeared in print.)