By JAVED MAHMOOD, RAZZAK ABRO and AHMED YUSUF
KARACHI – Veteran Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar belongs to the generation who identified with John Lennon’s give peace a chance. Back in 1969, Lennon stayed in bed to protest the Vietnam War. But Nayar is more of a doer, travelling even at the age of 87 to spread the word: all we are saying is give peace a chance.
Nayar is leading a delegation of Indian peace activists, who are focusing on increasing people-centric solutions for peace amid edgy relations between the governments of the two countries. Even at this age, I am an optimist who believes peace is the only option and solution in this region. Our generation has a lot of nostalgia. But the new generation has no such hang-ups.
I can tell you that well-educated boys and girls are supporting us in the peace mission without expecting any monetary benefit. Once when I was coming to Pakistan, a flight attendant asked me if my regular trips would ever be beneficial and whether peace would become a reality. I told him probably not in my lifetime, but certainly in yours. He was overjoyed. See what happened in the Arab world: the youth wanted their space, they demanded democracy. The youth of Southasia wants peace.
The people will always prevail, even though there is a situation where the Army is perpetually in power in Pakistan. It is not as if the peace process has stalled at the government level. If talks are taking place between India and Pakistan, they are surely not without the consent of General Kayani. I have heard from people that General Kayani is suspicious of Indian intervention in Balochistan. My feeling is that he is very particular about Afghanistan, that he believes it is Pakistan’s strategic depth.
But suppose India, Pakistan and Afghanistan come to an agreement; I don’t think he’ll have any objections to that. But Pakistan must be assured that India has no intervention in Balochistan or Afghanistan. Democratic governments made much headway as far as the issue of Kashmir is concerned. Most efforts on the India side were made and pursued by Vajpayee – during the government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), even though it was not expected from them.
Mushahid Hussain had told me that a timeframe was also laid out. Vajpayee told me that a framework had been completed, but Musharraf eliminated Nawaz Sharif from the picture. According to Vajpayee, Nawaz Sharif had become a victim due to us. And now, Manmohan Singh wants to resolve the Kashmir issue as well. He may not enjoy much support in his cabinet, but the ordinary man on the street is with him. Towards the end of Musharraf’s tenure, he also became interested in resolving the Kashmir issue.
Former foreign minister Khurshed Mahmood Kasuri told me that some agreement was due to be inked between Manmohan Singh and Musharraf, but that couldn’t take place because the lawyers’ movement had started. This means there is certainly a draft, why don’t we start from that? And invite the Kashmiris also to these discussions as well. Normalisation of relations has to do more with attitudes.
When I crossed the border on September 20, 1942, when I left my home town of Sialkot, I promised my friends we would meet each other when the borders become soft. When I started this peace mission, I got a lot of response from the people; it was only the establishments of both sides that were rigid. The Pakistani High Commission handed over visas to my colleagues of the peace delegation at noon, and we had a 3’o clock flight. This is part of the mindset on both sides of the border.
Pakistan, India to meet in World Cup final
Kuldip Nayar has no doubts about the contestants of the ICC World Cup 2011: India and Pakistan will meet in Mumbai on April 2. “If India win against the West Indies on Sunday, which it will probably will, then India and Pakistan will meet in the final. They will both be tough sides, dangerous sides,” Nayar said.
Whose side will you be on? “Both sides,” he smiled. Nayar argued that the resumption of sports diplomacy was on the cards, despite the BCCI recently snubbing Pakistani players from this year’s version of the IPL. “I have long argued that India and Pakistan should play test series on the pattern of the Ashes, and I hope this becomes a reality,” he said.