Pakistan

Kasuri defends his Kashmir formula claim

LONDON: Former Foreign Minister of Pakistan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Khurshid Kasuri mounted a passionate defence of his claim that India agreed to a four point formula to resolve the Kashmir dispute when he was in office.

According to press release, the former foreign minister was speaking at a high profile “public conversation” in London on Thursday night.

According to ex-foreign minister Kasuri, the four points in the formula were: “1. Jammu & Kashmir could not be made independent; 2. borders could not be redrawn; 3. the LoC could be made irrelevant; and 4. a Joint Mechanism for both parts of Kashmir could be worked out.

“These were negotiated between Tariq Aziz, a close aide of Pervez Musharraf, who was President of Pakistan when Kasuri was Foreign Minister, and an Indian diplomat Sati Lambah through ‘back channels'”, he said.

He said that his recently published book named Neither a Hawk nor a Dove deals with the framework evolved by the by the two governments (of Pakistan and India).

“I challenge anyone to challenge me this is what was agreed between the two governments”, Kasuri said.

He asserted that proof of the matter is that former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the Congress party and previously Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani of the Bharatiya Janata Party were present at the launch of the book in Delhi last year. “It (the book) has not been contradicted”, he went on to say.

Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Lieutenant General Abdul Qayyum cast doubts on the validity of back channel negotiations while Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid disputed Kasuri’s claim about Singh agreeing to the proposal.

“I am not quite sure there was a meeting of minds on a larger scale in India”, Kasuri maintained.

Khurshid also sarcastically declared he was confused about the present Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy towards Pakistan. “I am very confused. Despite the grand efforts that he (Modi) has made, I don’t think there has been any remarkable movement forward”, Kasuri said.

He accused India’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) of being obstructive when in opposition. “As External Affairs Minister) I was very keen he (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) should visit Pakistan. But it was the pressure of the BJP that prevented him from taking the historic step”, he added.

“A sellout audience attended the event, which was jointly organised by RAYMEDIA and South Asia Future Forum at an auditorium suitably named the Hall of India and Pakistan at the century old Royal Overseas League. The lively inter-action was anchored by Ashis Ray, formerly CNN’s South Asia bureau chief, who covered both countries extensively in this capacity. Questions were put to the speakers by ARY News anchorperson Aamir Ghauri”, the release added.

The release added that the sparring diplomats, though, were on the same page on the two countries granting each other most favoured nation (MFN) status in trade, which has not come into effect because Pakistan is yet to trigger an agreement it signed on the subject in 2012.

Dr. Chandan Mitra, BJP MP also participated in the conversation by video. The event was attended by members of the European and British parliaments, regional experts from London-based think-tanks, present and former diplomats and a large number of professionals.

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