India, Pakistan Had A Solution For Kashmir In 2007: Kasuri

20 January 2015
The Hindu
Nirupama Subramanian

Chennai: 'Are you a hawk or a dove on India, Kasuri saheb?' Those were General Pervez Musharraf first words to the man he was going to appoint as his foreign minister in 2002 after that year's general election in Pakistan cemented the military ruler's 1999 coup and a controversially won presidency. Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri held the foreign affairs portfolio to the end of the Musharraf government in 2008, playing a leading role in the India-Pakistan peace process that formally began in 2003 with the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC). In a book to be published next month, the former minister is set to provide an insider account of those years, one of the most secretive and fascinating periods of India-Pakistan diplomacy, and also the best time in recent decades for bilateral relations. As the title of the book suggests, Neither Hawk Nor Dove was Mr. Kasuri's response to the military ruler's question. More exactly, the former foreign minister told The Hindu in an interview from Lahore, he has been 'a great believer' in peaceful relations between the two countries 'for decades, from even before the time I became a foreign minister.' Declining to divulge any specifics from the book as that would violate his contract with the publishers, Mr. Kasuri nonetheless said it would contain details that are 'true' even if 'it is going to make people angry.' 'I have given the exact details that have never been revealed. I have given the background in which the peace process took place, and the context in which it happened,' said Mr. Kasuri. He is now a prominent member of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. He is in India this week to speak at the Jaipur Literature Festival which begins on Wednesday. Earlier accounts have suggested that robust backchannel diplomacy had helped the two sides arrive at a non-paper, a secret document outlining the contours of a political settlement on Kashmir. It was widely believed then that only five people in Pakistan were privy to the peace process. Mr. Kasuri, who is admittedly one of them, said his book would lay bare the details of that non-paper beyond the generally known 'four-point formula.' 'It will go beyond the four points. People will be able to understand what we did on the backchannel framework on Kashmir,' Mr. Kasuri said. That framework, Mr. Kasuri said, 'is still the only workable solution. It took three years, so many drafts were exchanged. You can't reinvent the wheel.' It was 'pretty much finished, only one or two little things needed ironing out,' Mr. Kasuri said, and after that 'we would have presented it to the governments, to the public, to the media.' There is a full chapter in the book on the Pakistan Army based on Mr. Kasuri's five years of dealing with the country's most powerful institution first hand. Dismissing suggestions that the Pakistan Army was not on board regarding the Musharraf-Vajpayee-initiated peace process, Mr. Kasuri said: 'I have quoted secret cables to show that all the others in the Pakistan Army were fully on board It will help understand the role played by the Army in that process.' The only way to break the impasse in the India-Pakistan relations, Mr. Kasuri said, was 'to take forward the legacies of Pervez Musharraf and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.' Both, he said, had 'travelled a long distance [in their thinking] to arrive at the wisdom that the only option is peace.'