'I Know Pak Can't Take Kashmir'
22 October 2004
The Times of India
Lahore: If former Prime Minister I K Gujral is to be believed, his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif was more than aware that Islamabad would never be in a position to stake a total claim on Kashmir. Recalling his interaction with Sharif on the sidelines of a SAARC summit in Male, Maldives, Gujral told The News in an interview that the former gave him a very realistic and candid assessment of the situation on ground as far as the 'core issue' of Kashmir was concerned. According to Gujral, hearing Sharif's views in rustic Punjabi made the interaction quite memorable. He quoted Sharif saying, ' Dekho ji, mein thade kolon Kashmir leh nain sakda, meno patta aey. Tossi menon de nain sakdey, menon aey weh patta aey. Par gal karan wich ki harj aey ji (Look, I know I cannot take Kashmir from you. I know as well that you cannot give me the same. But there is no harm in talking).' Commenting on the ongoing Indo-Pak peace initiatives, Gujral said the fact both countries were engaged in a dialogue was very encouraging. 'The process initiated by Nawaz Sharif and me at Mali was sustained by two successive prime ministers of India. We started at a slow pace. A B Vajpayee gave it a big push. And Manmohan Singh is doing the same thing,' he told The News . He further added that India's policy vis-a-vis Pakistan during the tenures of three prime ministers was marked by continuity. He said all these heads of the government showed they had no difference over the policy regarding the dialogue despite having differences on other issues. 'I am sure the Indian side is keen to talk. And talking doesn't mean conceding,' Gujral said, adding, 'Who could ever imagine the policy stand that Nawaz Sharif took would be continued by General Musharraf. They have sharp differences otherwise.' He, however, maintained that the compass of talks had changed over the years. 'At a particular moment, breaking the ice was an achievement. During three premierships of India, we have covered several grounds. Every meeting leads to another meeting. The fact the meetings have not broken is by itself a big achievement.'