Both prime ministers behaved very wisely: Former Pakistan foreign minister (IANS Interview)

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New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) Even as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held parleys in Islamabad with Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and ISI chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akthar on Friday to ensure that the Pathankot attacks do not derail the peace process, Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri welcomed the “restrained and mature” responses by both the prime ministers and said the Pathankot attack was a “litmus test” for both the leaders.

“I think both the Prime Ministers have behaved very wisely. While the Indian media immediately resorted to finger-pointing, the Government of India did no such thing,” said Kasuri in an e-mail interview to IANS.

Kasuri’s reaction comes even as Islamabad is pushing for a sustained dialogue in the wake of the daring attack at an air base, where a sizeable number of Indian Air Force’s MiG-21 fighter planes and Mi-25 attack helicopters were based. Seven Indian security personnel were killed in the attack.

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Foreign Secretaries of both India and Pakistan were slated to meet in Islamabad next Friday even as New Delhi has linked the peace talks to Pakistan’s response to the ‘actionable evidence’ provided on the role of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed’s involvement.

“I am glad that PM Nawaz Sharif has offered to cooperate with India on the leads it provides. That is the only answer to the terrorists. They will stop only when they feel that the peace process had indeed become irreversible and that none of their activities will succeed in disrupting the peace process,” said Kasuri.

Accepting that the Pathankot attack was a “litmus test” for the leadership of both the countries, Kasuri said that it was crucial to the spirit of the joint statement on the irreversibility of peace process signed in New Delhi in 2005.

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Recollecting the efforts taken under Pervez Musharraf’s regime, Kasuri said that it was just after the peace process had begun that the Samjhauta Express blast took place in 2007. “The Samjhauta Express attack took place a day before my visit to New Delhi. I was advised to cancel my visit because of a large number of Pakistanis who had died in that attack. I refused to do any such thing and went ahead with my visit. My call in Delhi, after my arrival, was the hospital where injured Pakistanis were being treated,” said Kasuri, who had authored the book, ‘Neither a Hawk, nor a Dove’.

“Similarly, when my successor Shah Mahmud Qureshi went to India and the Mumbai attacks took place,” he added.

(Preetha Nair can be reached at [email protected])

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