NEW DELHI, Feb 5 (PTI): Pakistan under President Pervez Musharraf and India came close to reaching a four-point framework to resolve the Kashmir issue following backchannel talks around 2004-07 but it could not be firmed up due to certain political developments, former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri suggested around eight years back.
Musharraf, the Delhi-born military ruler who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 ousting the civilian government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, died in Dubai on Sunday after a long illness. He was 79.
In his book ‘Neither A Hawk Nor A Dove’ which was published in 2015, Kasuri recounted various stages of negotiations and steps taken by both sides which he claimed were aimed at an “out-of-the-box” solution to the vexed problem between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
India and Pakistan fought two wars which were followed by the Kargil conflict in 1999. Musharraf, as the chief of the Pakistan Army, is known to be the architect of the Kargil conflict.
“I had heard the phrase ‘out-of-the-box solution’ to Kashmir from J N Dixit, India’s National Security Advisor under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September 2004,” Kasuri, who was the Pakistan foreign minister under Musharraf’s presidency, wrote.
The former Pakistan foreign minister also referred to Musharraf’s book ‘In the Line of Fire’ where he also wrote about the need for an ‘out of the box’ solution to the Kashmir issue.
“Obviously, the ground realities must have changed drastically for the leaders of Pakistan and India to reach the conclusion that there is indeed a need for an out-of-the-box solution,” Kasuri wrote.
The Pakistan foreign minister from 2002 to 2007 also described in the book how this solution materialised in a more concrete form through the backchannel negotiations over almost three years.
“We now come to the contours of a possible settlement of the intractable Jammu and Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India which has been the cause of constant friction between the two countries over the last six decades,” he claimed.
“It was not just the Cassandras or the usual sceptics who thought that we were engaged in a futile exercise; in fact, a large part of the intelligentsia shared these doubts,” he added.
Musharraf’s four-point agenda, Kasuri said, were “(a) initiating a dialogue, (b) accepting the centrality of Kashmir, (c) eliminating whatever is not acceptable to Pakistan, India, and the Kashmiris, and (d) arriving at a solution acceptable to all the three stakeholders.”
In his memoir, Musharraf also mentioned about the “opportunity of a thaw” after the earthquake in Gujarat in early 2001.
Musharraf said he spoke to the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on phone and offered condolences. “That broke the ice and led to an invitation for a meeting to visit India,” Musharraf wrote.
In an address at an event in Delhi in 2015, Kasuri reiterated that India and Pakistan were about to reach a “framework” on Kashmir during UPA-I rule and both sides had even decided not to proclaim “victory” post the announcement.
The Kargil conflict took place just weeks after Vajpayee visited Lahore in a bus following an invitation from his then Pakistani counterpart Sharif.
Pakistan suffered huge losses in the Kargil conflict.
In July 2001, Musharraf paid a high-profile visit to India and held summit talks with Vajpayee in Agra with an aim to improve the frosty ties between the two nuclear-powered neighbours.
There were reports then that both sides had come close to some kind of a joint agreement at the Agra summit.
An informal breakfast meeting with a group of Indian journalists ahead of his talks with Vajpayee had not apparently gone down well with the Indian side.
Musharraf, who announced elections in 2008 under domestic and international pressure, was forced to resign as president following the polls.
In 2010, he formed his own party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, and declared himself the party president
In March 2014, Musharraf was indicted for suspending the Constitution on November 3, 2007.
In December 2019, a special court handed Musharraf a death sentence in the high treason case against him. However, a court later nullified the ruling.
The former military ruler left the country in March 2016 for Dubai when Pakistan’s Supreme Court lifted a travel ban on him to seek medical treatment there.
Musharraf was born on August 11, 1943 in Delhi. His family moved from New Delhi to Karachi in 1947. He joined the Pakistan Army in 1964 and was a graduate of the Army Staff and Command College, Quetta.