Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The Tale Of An Earnest Polit0ican And Diplomat

Updated: February 26, 2016 1:12 pm

The book is a tome of substantial proportions consisting of 851 pages and gives a comprehensive analysis of Indo-Pak affairs apart from being a memoir as well. Kasuri`s father Mahmud Ali Kasuri, was also from the legal fraternity like his son after him and a Leftist minded politician who rose to be Law Minister of Pakistan. He mentions the events which led to his father resigning from the cabinet of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto which in turn resulted in a number of cases being slapped on the family. It was not unusual for Bhutto to resort to such tactics as any observer of Pakistani politics of the sixties and seventies knows. He however does remark, “Bhutto, whatever his shortcomings, left a lasting legacy and a deep imprint on the minds of a large segment of the Pakistani population especially the poor.” While on the period of his youth Kasuri recounts some rather hilarious episodes on a trip to buff up Pakistan`s image to the USA after the 1971 debacle.

neither a hawk nor a dove

Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri

PENGUIN

Price : `999

Pages : 851

Kasuri assumed office as Foreign Minister of Pakistan in 2002 during the early years of Parvez Musharraf`s regime and demitted office in 2007. He recollects the Vajpayee Musharraf summit of January 2004 and “the handshake that changed history.” It was at this meeting that the joint statement was issued by both countries in which Pakistan gave an assurance that none of its territory would be used to sponsor terrorism against India. This assurance on the part of Pakistan is often quoted in the press and electronic media particularly by BJP leaders and spokespersons. However, it has just remained another platitude of assurance from Pakistan, for in the years that followed we had the Mumbai train explosion and 26/11, no matter what Kasuri and the others of his inclination may claim. Kasuri has written extensively about the Musharraf visit to Delhi in April 2005, when President Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh witnessed an Indo-Pak cricket match at the Feroz Shah Kotla Grounds among much bonhomie. For good measure Kasuri covers L.K. Advani`s visit to Pakistan in 2005, which happened mainly because according to the author, he felt that to strengthen the peace process it was necessary to have the BJP on board. That Advani calling Jinnah secular resulted in a furore in India causing him to resign as the BJP President is a different matter. Kasuri lays emphasis on the back channel approach to the Kashmir question. That aside, he also talks of the “watershed moment” after Musharraf`s visit which seemed to make the peace process sustainable with the launch of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service in April 2005. However, 26/11 and the formation of the PPP government in 2008 was a set-back to the process, he states. He mentions a four point “out of the box” solution which basically contained making the Line of Control ‘irrelevant’ and working out a Joint Mechanism of governance in Kashmir, but it was never acted upon. The Siachen Glacier issue, says Kasuri was almost resolved during this period but the Indian Army Chief J.J. Singh torpedoed it. Another tragedy for short term gains.

Khushid Mahmud Kasuri’s is a highly readable and attention-grabbing effort even though the book is a bit unwieldy and he tends to ramble on quite a few issues. His scrutiny of the Pakistani Army is both meticulous and objective vis-a-vis India. The lawyer turned Diplomat has proved himself to be a genuine advocate of friendship between India and Pakistan in this narrative.

By Arvindar Singh

05-03-2016

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