Former RAW official cites example of thaw in Korea and Trump’s willingness to talk to Kim
India should invite Pakistan’s Army chief Qamar Jawad Bajwa for talks, said a former intelligence chief at an event attended by several senior opposition leaders and former key officials including former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari, National Conference leader Dr. Farooq Abdullah, former ministers Yashwant Sinha and Kapil Sibal, former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and former Intelligence Bureau Chief K.M. Singh.
“Who could have thought that the Koreans could speak to each other? Or that Trump would want to meet [Korean leader] Kim Jong Un? In which case what is the problem with inviting the Pakistan Army Chief to India?” said A.S. Dulat, former secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) (1999-2000) at the launch of a book of his conversations with former Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director-General (1990-91) Asad Durrani “Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace”, co-authored by journalist Aditya Sinha.
The statement came a day after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she would take any call from the Pakistan Army chief for peace “seriously”, which was praised by some of the participants. Mr. Durrani was unable to join the event as he was denied a visa by the government. In a videographed statement, he called the book an “unprecedented” effort where two former intelligence chiefs from two “hostile countries had tried to work together.”
“Under the present environment, people interested in people to people ties have no options, but it is hope that keeps us going (Duniya ummeed pe kaayam hai)” Mr. Durrani told the audience. Publisher, Harper Collins said, in a lighter vein, that the Ministry of External Affairs could probably “take some happiness from breaking an ISI chief’s heart.”
The MEA did not respond to a request for a comment on why Mr. Durrani was denied a visa.
The panel, moderated by television anchor Barkha Dutt also spoke about past attempts at India-Pakistan dialogue and the reasons for their failure.
According to former NSA Menon one of the problems is that there is a “double standard” when it comes to talks with Pakistan, as talks with other countries like China continued despite transgressions that took place in September 2014, whereas there have been no talks with Pakistan since terror attacks in Pathankot and Uri.
Speaking about the resolution of the Kashmir conflict, Dr. Farooq Abdullah said India and Pakistan were still carrying the “baggage of partition” and should now accept the Line of Control as a boundary. Quoting former Prime Ministers A.B. Vajpayee and Dr. Singh’s statements made in Kashmir that countries can choose friends but not neighbours, Dr. Abdullah said it was time to forget “past bitterness” after 70 years, while Mr. Sibal said the present militancy in Jammu and Kashmir could not be solely blamed on instigation from Pakistan, and accused the government of allowing the present situation where “30 boys have turned to militancy in 3 months.”
Also critical of the NDA government’s policies was Mr. Yashwant Sinha who said that a tough security-based policy was not effective in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Muscular policies are brainless policies, because muscles don’t have brains,” he added.