NEW DELHI: Summit talks between Prime ministers of India and Pakistan should not take place without any “proper preparations”, says former Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, adding the only way to end the post-Ufa deadlock is to begin secret back-channel parleys.
The secret talks should be conducted in the same way both sides very nearly finalised a formula for resolving the Kashmir issue between 2004 and 2007, he said.
Asserting that India and Pakistan should first remove the intense mutual “antagonism” to improve strained ties, he said a “gag order” must be imposed by their Prime Ministers against those in the establishment making inflammatory comments against each other.
Days after his book “Neither A Hawk Nor A Dove” hit the stands in India, Kasuri claimed the back-channel peace talks, that almost culminated into permanent settlement of the Kashmir issue around eight years ago, had the endorsement of Pakistan military and ISI, asserting that it was time both sides “grow up” and resolve it.
Kasuri, who was Pakistan Foreign Minister between 2002 and 2007, called Narendra Modi’s invitation to Premier Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony last year and seeking a meeting with him at Ufa as a positive signal in approaching the Kashmir issue.
“High-level meetings, summit level meetings should never take place without proper preparations. There was no homework done for Ufa. It is better that these meetings do not take place. I am in favour of shaking hands, smiling, even a cup of tea in front of cameras without serious talks,” Kasuri said in an interview.
When asked if India makes any surgical strike inside Pakistan to target terrorists, Kasuri’s response was “God forbid all hell will break.
Kasuri also hoped that Modi will adopt a pragmatic approach in resolving the Kashmir issue, rejecting apprehension in some quarters in Pakistan that he could adopt an aggressive attitude.
“I hope Modi’s desire to develop India economically will bring the pragmatism in his personality to the fore and help check a tendency among some elements in his party to please grass-roots support,” he wrote.
Crediting Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the first peace initiative, he said, “We were unhappy when they lost elections in 2004 because we did not know whether the Congress will accept it and carry forward the initiative.
“We were pleasantly surprised within one month when Natwar Singh (Foreign Minister in first UPA government) said that the Manmohan Singh government will carry forward this process.”
Asked whether Modi will be able to take forward the peace process, he said he was optimistic.
“You cannot coarse us to do what you want us to do. We cannot coarse you to do what we want you to do. How long will it last. The days of war is unthinkable,” said Kasuri.