Karachi: There is a false impression in Pakistan and its media that India does not want dialogue between the two countries, the Indian envoy here said, dismissing claims that India has a “flip-flop” approach in its foreign policy. Indian High Commissioner T C A Raghavan, speaking at a seminar here on Indo-Pak relations yesterday, said that India and Pakistan should try to have a “relationship with multiple stakeholders, rather than seeing it in identity-driven, mythological terms.”
The seminar titled “India-Pakistan – emerging realities” organised by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations was attended by diplomats from India and Pakistan. Dismissing former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri’s assertions at the seminar that India has a flip-flop approach in its foreign policy, Raghavan said, “There is a false narrative in Pakistan about India, accompanied by demonisation in the media, that India did not want dialogue between the two countries.”
He claimed that since May, 2014 every single initiative had come from India. “In March this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent Foreign Secretary Jaishankar to Pakistan, but the third day after he left the country one of the ring leaders of the Mumbai attacks was released,” he said referring to LeT operations commander and 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi’s release from the jail.
He said the Ufa meeting too was initiated by India. The Indian envoy reiterated that it was not possible to discuss one issue and all issues had to be discussed. On the ceasefire violations at LoC, he said, “For months India has been suggesting let’s bring about a greater degree of calm to the LoC for which the DGMOs had to meet, but they had not been meeting.”
Speaking at the seminar, former Pakistan foreign minister Kasuri expressed optimism on the state and future of Indo-Pak relations. He said that even in worst of times common sense was exhibited from both sides, which was why he had faith in the common sense of the people of the two countries. Referring to current debate in India over alleged intolerance, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a pragmatist and if he wished to succeed he should not ignore lessons of history because no country could progress if there was not harmony within that country.
“We should not despair, and look at positive examples such as the ones of writers in India who are returning their awards in protest against the wave of extremism,” Kasuri said. He lamented the “flip-flop” approach of Indian foreign policy in recent times, saying “despite the fact that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been invited to the swearing-in ceremony of Modi, a meeting of foreign secretaries was called off because some Hurriyat leaders had visited the Pakistan High Commission.” “We have no option but to talk…nothing new can happen to us,” he said.
Former Indian minister for petroleum and natural gas Mani Shankar Aiyar shared Kasuri’s optimism and said that Indo-Pak relations needed human touch. Alluding to the present-day political atmosphere in India, Aiyar said “there are people in his country who were viscerally against Muslims, but a vast majority of Indians can not be anything but secular”. He said that hard political problems had to be solved at the top level where politicians and diplomats got together.
He said, “In 1972 it was agreed that there was an issue of Kashmir, which required the final settlement. Unfortunately, India and Pakistan are neither having a bilateral nor multilateral dialogue”. “Terrorism is a major issue in India, and both Kashmir and terrorism should be discussed with equal importance,” he said. He emphasised restructuring of the composite dialogue, uninterrupted and uninterruptable.