A Pakistani senator Tuesday welcomed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s readiness to talk to the separatist Hurriyat Conference in Jammu and Kashmir.
‘I will welcome it but with cautious optimism. Kashmiris have to be taken aboard the dialogue process. Good Indian leaders have started doing it,’
said Mushahid Hussain, who was information minister in the Nawaz Sharif government.
Manmohan Singh said in Thai resort Hua Hin Sunday that he had held two or three rounds of talks with Hurriyat leaders and they had promised to revert to them. He said he was waiting for them.
Hussain welcomed Manmohan Singh’s initiative to re-start a dialogue with Kashmiri separatist leaders and ‘quiet diplomacy’ to solve problems in the troubled state.
Asked about military aid from Pakistan to Kashmiri militants, he said: ‘You ask this to Kashmiris if their struggle isn’t indigenous, popular and genuine.’
So wasn’t Pakistan resorting to blame game tactics in accusing India? Pat came the reply: ‘(The) same can be said about India.’
‘In the end, the two countries have to work jointly in curbing the menace (of terrorism), which is common not only to them but to the entire humankind.’
Hussain is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Pakistan Senate. He was speaking on the sidelines of a conference against terrorism organised by the Jama Masjid United Forum at Oberoi Hotel here.
At the same time, Hussain echoed the Pakistani establishment line that India was covertly assisting the Taliban — an allegation New Delhi has dismissed with contempt.
‘India is drawing vicarious pleasure from Pakistan’s troubles. Some elements in India are using our problems to what they think is their advantage. They are following the Chanakya principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ he said.
Hussain condemned terrorism but warned that ‘the menace won’t end until the Kashmir and Palestine issues were solved peacefully and democratically’ – a popular line Pakistani leaders have been maintaining when accused of sponsoring terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
‘It is our official and realistic policy that the Kashmir issue has to be solved as per the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiris, as laid down in the UN resolutions,’ he said.
Both India and Pakistan have to be ‘realistic that neither can Kashmir be held militarily nor can we snatch it militarily’.
‘We have been the biggest victims of terrorism. There is a terror corridor that runs from Iraq into Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
‘India is promoting and aiding Taliban in Pakistan and should understand that if it doesn’t stop fomenting terrorism against Pakistan, the corridor won’t stop at the Wagah border (in Punjab) and would very much enter into India,’ said the alumnus of the School of Foreign Service in Georgetown University, US.