India, Pak Were 'very Near' To Kashmir Agreement: Kasuri

19 November 2014
Kashmir Reader

New Delhi: Stressing that Pervez Musharraf's 'four-point formula' on Kashmir was still 'relevant', former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should appoint a close confidant for back channel talks with his country. He said Pakistan and India were very close to a framework agreement on the Kashmir issue through back-channel talks during Musharraf and the UPA government's tenure. This, he said, can be put to use by the new regimes in both the countries. Kasuri'It does not matter what name you give it, what points come first or who it is named after, the four-point formula is still relevant today,' he said. Emphasizing on need for talks, Kasuri said he 'strongly feels that Modi should appoint someone who enjoys his confidence, someone who is close to him, as the person for back-channel talks with Pakistan'. Kasuri, who was one of those in direct knowledge of the back-channel talks during Musharraf and Singh's tenure and claims to have seen the 'drafts', is in India for a 'Track-II' dialogue. His book Neither hawk, nor dove is set to be launched in January next year in which he talks extensively on this formula and the back channel parleys. Kasuri said the book narrates 'what we agreed on, what led to it, what pressures were there on us, what were we facing, what were we being told (interlocutors)'. 'It went on for three years,' he said, talking about the four-point agenda. He said only the then Pakistan President and Army chief Musharraf, Vice Army chief and ISI head besides the Foreign Secretary and himself were in the know of the framework. 'Manmohan Singh was equally secretive. No one wanted a negative spin,' he told reporters here. Kasuri said he wished Manmohan Singh had visited Pakistan in 2006 to sign an agreement on Sir Creek as it would have also paved the way for the agreement on Kashmir. He said former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger had used the term 'balanced dissatisfaction' while writing about Ukraine crisis, but the 'foru-point formula' was trying to achieve more than balanced dissatisfaction. Speaking of the Kashmir framework, he said Indians wanted reciprocity on everything and their bottom line was that there would be no change in geographic frontiers. Kasuri said the framework was such that the leadership on both sides thought they could convince the majority of their people as also vast sections of people in Kashmir. He said Kashmiris did not want their state to be split. He also said the negotiators were working on a formula that the Kashmiris will accept and in turn the Pakistanis too, except a 'small' group of religious rights. According to a published account of the framework agreement on Kashmir, the first step was to make the Line of Control (LoC) just 'a line on a map'. The second step was to strengthen local self-governments on both sides of the LoC. The third step entailed creation of joint or cooperative institutions under the charge of Kashmiri leaders to coordinate policies on matters of common interest. The fourth and final element was 'agreed withdrawal' of troops on both sides. Kasuri said he had suggested his book's title as 'Interrupted symphony' but his publishers came up with a new title which was acceptable to him. He said the book also talks about things that have gone wrong in Pakistan. He said there were some distortions in history and Pakistan was the inheritor of the Indus Valley civilisation and should take ownership of it. 'I have tried to give a hard message. I am a politician. I am a realist,' he said.