Difficult times ahead in Indo-Pak relations: Salman Khurshid

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “grand” efforts to normalise relations with Pakistan has not produced “any remarkable movement forward”, former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said, while warning that “difficult times” were in store for Indo-Pak ties.

Participating in a “public conversation” here last night with erstwhile Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, Khurshid said there has been no progress in the India-Pakistan relations under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I am very confused. Despite the grand efforts that he (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) has made, I don’t think there has been any remarkable movement forward.”

He described recent reports about Pakistan sharing intelligence information on militants as “encouraging”, but did not think this would make a big difference.

Khurshid, 63, even warned of “difficult times ahead” in the Indo-Pak relations.

Theinteraction was anchored by senior journalistAshis Ray, formerly CNN’s South Asia bureau chief.

The two speakers also disagreed on the reported four point formula put forward by Pakistan when General Pervez Muharraf was its President and Kasuri its Foreign Minister.

Kasuri insisted Dr Singh had agreed to the proposal, but Khurshid rejected this view.

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

Noting thatDr Singh was “extremely consultative”, Khurshid, however, said: “I am not quite sure there was a meeting of minds on a larger scale in India.”

Khurshid, then, accused the BJP when in opposition of being obstructive.

“(As External Affairs Minister) I was very keen he should visit Pakistan. But it was the pressure of the BJP that prevented him from taking the historic step,” he asserted.

The sparring diplomats, though, were on the same page on the two countries granting each other the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status in trade, which has not come into effect because Pakistan has failed to honour an agreement it signed on the subject in 2012.

Khurshid and Kasuri concurred “commercial lobbies” in Pakistan were preventing the pact from going forward.

Lieutenant General (now retired) Abdul Qayyum of the Pakistan Army and Dr Chandan Mitra, BJP MP, participated in the conversation by video.