Pakistan does not see India as an enemy, neither does it consider India as a friend, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said pushing for the resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue. Every prime minister before PM Modi tried for some kind of dialogue with Pakistan but now it is a freeze situation, the Congress leader said to news agency PTI ahead of his book launch ‘Memoirs of a Maverick — The First Fifty Years (1941-1991)’
Recounting his experience as India’s consul general in Karachi from December 1978 to January 1982, Aiyar said Pakistan sees India neither as an enemy nor a friend. India’s ‘biggest asset’ in Pakistan were the people who did not consider India as its enemy country.
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‘This is an enemy country, right?’
“We were coming back from a dinner one day, within the first two-three weeks of the posting, when my wife Suneet asked me a question that reverberated in my mind in my stay in Karachi — ‘This is an enemy country, right’?” Aiyar said. “I have come to the conclusion that whatever may be the view of the sections of the army, or sections of polity, as far as the people of Pakistan are concerned, they are neither an enemy country nor do they regard India as an enemy country,” Aiyar added.
‘Why we don’t know’
According to the Congress leader, an integral part of India’s diplomatic approach should be leveraging the goodwill of the Pakistanis. “Every time we want to display our disapproval of the (Pakistani) government, visas are stopped, films are stopped, TV exchanges are stopped, books are stopped, travel is stopped, so I don’t see why we do not know how to leverage the goodwill of the people of Pakistan as an integral part of our diplomatic approach,” Aiyar added.
“Until Mr (Narendra) Modi became prime minister of India, almost every prime minister, if he had the time, was attempting some kind of a dialogue with the Pakistanis but now we are in a freeze and the victims of this freeze are not the army of Pakistan which is still swigging its scotch, it is the people of Pakistan whose relatives in large numbers live in India and many of whom have a desire to visit our country,” the Congress leader said.
‘Why are we targeting the Pakistani people?’
Aiyar said when he was in Karachi, he issued three lakh visas and there was not a single complaint of misuse. “So why are we targeting the Pakistani people? You can target the Pakistani establishment if you want to, but as far as the people are concerned, they are our biggest asset and as far as the establishment is concerned, we can target them but we need to engage with them,” Aiyar said.
(With inputs from PTI)