Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mani Shankar Aiyar: Inside Pakistan - 2

In this program of the series Inside Pakistan, the host Mani Shankar Aiyar travels to Lahore, to meet his exact contemporary and Cambridge classmate Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, with whom he discusses several aspects of the India-Pakistan dispute, including over Kashmir. Most importantly, Kasuri and Aiyar rekindle their old Cambridge bonhomie, and discuss the contours of the settlement of the Kashmir issue arrived at through unpublicized backchannel negotiations between the Pervez Musharraf government in Pakistan and the Manmohan Singh government. The agreement was to be signed in Islamabad and the scheduled visit by Prime Minister Singh of India (himself born in what is now Pakistan) had to be postponed because of the lawyer's movement in Pakistan creating a severe crisis of legitimacy for President Musharraf.

A candid conversation between Cambridge classmates 50 years later, but also between two Lahore-born gentlemen who each rose to Cabinet rank in their respective countries. Kasuri laments that the whole problem could have been settled if only Aiyar and he had both been Foreign Ministers at the same time (Aiyar had held the Petroleum and Sports ministries when Kasuri was Foreign Minister) and been locked in the same room for a few hours, to which Aiyar responds that it might have happened, but afterwards their countries might have had to lock them up separately!

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