Dialogue between India and Pakistan will continue to move forward and will not be derailed despite recent unpleasant events, India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said at a dinner hosted for Track 2 dialogue participants in New Delhi on Monday.
Alluding to incidents at the Line of Control in recent weeks, Khurshid said that sometimes, unpleasant things happen between states but those shouldn’t be allowed to affect ties between them. Without giving any particular timeframe, the minister said that the peace process between the two countries will move forward. Khurshid said this while on the table with Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir and two former Pakistani high commissioners to India, Shahid Malik and Aziz Ahmad Khan.
Prior to the speech, Khurshid had an informal interaction with several participants of the Track 2 Dialogue (which was organised in New Delhi by the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation and the Islamabad-based Jinnah Institute). The head of Ajoka theatre group, Madeeha Gauhar, spoke to the Indian minister in detail about the cancellation of a play scheduled to be performed by her group at India’s National School of Drama. The minister replied by saying that such decisions, including the one about sending Pakistani hockey players who had come to India to play in a professional league, were not the result of any coordinated decision-making by the government of India. Rather, organisers had assessed respective situations and acted on their own accord. “They must have sensed the wind and took these actions, and we have not reprimanded them for taking them because at times such things can happen,” said Khurshid.
The minister said that the media had blown the issue out of control, saying that the matter “snowballed” once it came into the media’s spotlight. In response to a question from Pakistani social scientist and defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa, the minister said that the Indian government’s response is usually given by the foreign ministry and that other institutions had been told to avoid giving such statements to the press.
“The reality today is that one doesn’t need to look for a reporter or a camera to give a statement, the cameras are everywhere – so I don’t blame the military officials either,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2013.