Oxford launches Khurshid Kasuri's book (The Nation (Pakistan))

Former Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri yesterday revealed that Pakistan and India had agreed not to give veto power to extremists way back in 2005.

In his opening remarks at the launch of his book: Neither a Hawk Nor A Dove, Kasuri unveiled some facts, also narrated in his book, about the back channel diplomacy during his term as foreign minister.

Neither a Hawk nor a Dove is an insider’s account of Pakistan’s foreign relations including details of the Kashmir Framework by Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. This book is the first comprehensive account by a Pakistani Foreign Minister who contributed in moving the peace process with India forward. Kasuri writes candidly about his Indian counterparts and provides a detailed analysis of the Kashmir issue and the complex Pakistan-US-Afghanistan-lndia quadrangular relationship. The book features rare insights into the workings of the Pakistan Army and the contributions of the Foreign Office, Kasuri also elaborates on Pakistan’s relations with China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran.

He also disclosed that Pakistan government had started a process of de-radicalization of freedom fighters fighting in Kashmir to reach at an amicable settlement of the dispute.

He asserted that what he had achieved during his term as finance minister should serve as the foundation for any future dialogue between India and Pakistan. Any future solution of the dispute should not be out of the framework already agreed between the two countries, he added.

Kasuri said that Kashmir frame agreed through the back channel talks had full backing of the Pakistan army. He said that Lt. Gen Ahsan Saleem was the key army general at that time giving army’s input to the foreign office.

He said General Musharraf would some times make him sit with the ISI chief to take their input when the back channel diplomacy was going on.

Later, while replying to a question during panel discussion, Kasuri said that though the UN resolutions provided the legal basis to resolve Kashmir dispute, but successive governments in Pakistan have tried to find a negotiated settlement of Kashmir issue. In fact, all Pakistan leaders have tried this option, he added.

Kasuri said personal relations of diplomats also matter a lot in diplomacy. I utilized personal relationship with foreign ministers to improve bilateral relations, he said. Kasuri also mentioned his good personal relations with ex-British Foreign Secretary Mr Jack Straw.

He said that in his book he had even given credit to his political opponents where it was due. I have credited Z.A Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and General Musharraf in my book, he averred.

To a question about his secret mission to Israel, the former foreign minister said that Israel was supplying sophisticated weapons system to India and the Jewish lobby in the USA was active to deny Pakistan access to the civilian nuclear technology. In this background, I was tasked to prevent Israel from doing so, he added.

Mr Kasuri also disclosed that Turkey had played a role to make this happen. When I landed at Istanbul for onward journey to Israel, airport lights were switched off so that no body could notice my arrival there, he said.

To another question, he said Moodi would be a failed PM if he did not give peace a chance. Kasuri also accused him of doing party politics on the issue of negotiations with Pakistan. He said war was not an option for India and Pakistan as both the countries were armed to teeth. He said he did not see any possibility of war in the near future.

In his keynote address on the occasion, former Indian Minister for Petroleum and Gas, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar said that if Pakistan was blamed for harboring terrorism, it was also a worst victim of it at the same time.

Talking about the back channel talks the two countries had ten years back, Mani said that it was agreed that no country would claim victory after the settlement of disputes. He told the audience that open negotiations later held between the two countries failed because they were held without any preparation.

He also stressed the need for sustained dialogue between the two countries till resolution of all outstanding issues. We have to talk until we succeed, he remarked, adding that whatever had already been achieved should not be reversed. We are so close to resolving the issues if we start the negotiations from where we had left.

Shankar believed that it was easiest thing to resolve the issues between India and Pakistan because it was so easy to find common grounds to proceed further. He said Pakistanis were suffering from identity crisis after the creation of Pakistan.

In the beginning of his speech, Mr Mani said : I am more Lahori than Mr Kasuri because I was born at Lahore in 1941 while Mr Kasuri was born here two years later.

Earlier, in her welcome address, Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press Pakistan, introduced the author and said, Mr Kasuri’s time in office was one during which our relations with our neighbour became healthier and more nuanced; when a number of new initiatives were launched and it became possible to think about out-of-the-box solutions to the issues that bedevil relations between the two countries; when one felt the first, frail breaths of an Aman ki Asha beginning to blow both ways across our borders.

Talking about the origin of the terms, Hawk and Dove, she said that these two terms, the bird of prey and the bird of peace, emerged during the US war in Vietnam. If an American statesman was a ‘Hawk’, it meant that he stood for waging an aggressive campaign against the Vietnamese. The ‘Doves’ were those, who regarded the war as unjustified and demanded that America pullout of Vietnam. Both positions could perhaps be regarded as extreme.

In the context of India and Pakistan, she said that since there was no actual war in progress, so the two terms apply to the attitudes and postures that politicians in our two countries adopt.