Lahore: Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri has said he has always been “intrigued” by the fact that then President Pervez Musharraf received a warm reception in India on his 2001 visit despite being regarded as the architect of the Kargil conflict. Kasuri, in his new book ‘Neither A Hawk Nor A Dove’, extensively refers to Musharraf’s two visits to Delhi — once for the Agra Summit and the second time in 2005.
Details of these visits and some interesting anecdotes have been shared at length by Kasuri in his book set to be launched here next week. The book, published worldwide by Oxford University Press and by Penguin in India, carries a recollection of his experiences as the country’s foreign minister from November 2002 until November 2007.
Referring to Musharraf’s first visit, Kasuri writes, “I have always been intrigued as to why President Musharraf, who had been demonised by the Indian media after Kargil, was lionised by the same media when he was invited to visit India by (then) Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee.
He then elucidates the reasons for such a welcome to Musharraf despite being regarded by India as being behind the Kargil conflict in 1999. Kasuri states the invitation was extended as it had been quite a while since talks between the two neighbours had been completely halted and there was a growing realisation in the wake of nuclear tests by the two countries that war was no longer an option and there was no substitute for talks.
He also argues that India was experiencing fast economic growth and its growing middle class wanted greater global prestige and engagement which was difficult as long as confrontation with Pakistan continued. Kasuri writes, “a massive media build-up followed the announcement of President Musharraf’s visit to India and all the major Indian channels extensively covered the impending visit. They highlighted the fact that President Musharraf was born in Delhi.”
“The ancestral home of President Musharraf was commented upon with great interest and the media even managed to dig out a very old ayah (nanny) with an excellent memory, who reminisced about the time she had spent looking after baby Musharraf,” he writes.