Shankar suggest weekly uninterrupted
dialogue at Wagah-Attary border
KARACHI: Mar 6 — Former Indian Minister Mr. Mani Shankar
Aiyer on Saturday suggested uninterrupted dialogue between India and
Pakistan at Wagah-Attary border on weekly basis to discuss all the
pending issues between the two countries. Instead of meeting at Delhi
or Islamabad on occasional basis, both the governments should sit
together regularly at borders to discuss all the disputed issue.
He was speaking at a meeting with civil society organizations at PILER
centre, Gulshan-e-Maymar, Karachi . On his arrival from New Delhi
direct to office of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research
(PILER) he was presented Ajrak and Sindhi Topi by former Nazim of
Gaddap Town Ghulam Murtaza Baloch. Karamat Ali, Executive Director
of PILIER presented him welcome address.
Mani Shankar is known for his consistent advocacy of peaceful and
friendly relations between Pakistan and India . His special interests
include grassroots democracy, Indian foreign policy, particularly
with India 's neighborhood countries and West Asia and Nuclear Disarmament.
Shankar, who is a former senior diplomat and present member of the
ruling All India Congress said Vietnam and US used to meet at Hotel
Majestic Palace on every Thursday and South and North Korean government
officials are still meeting each other on weekly basis. “Why not Pakistan
and India can meet at the borders on regular basis for peace dialogue
and for that purpose they did not need any permission or visa,” he
Both the sides can talk every issue by just intimating each other
in advance. He said former Pakistani President General Pervaiz Musharraf
had initiated a process of back-channel diplomacy and it was very
successful. “We were told that many vital issues like Kashmir , Siachine,
Sir Creek, Vooler barrage etc had moved at advance stage.”
“We should take our people in confidence about the happenings so that
if they have any objections can be addressed. If uninterrupted dialogue
initiated you would see a big change in relationship between two countries.”
Mr. Shankar who remained posted in Pakistan in 1970s decade said he
has very close relationship with Pakistani people. “I have come here
for 20 times. About 46 Pakistani guests had attended marriage ceremony
of my daughter.” This time, he said he has come on a private visit.
On a question about Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project,
the former Indian Minister for Petroleum said it was he who had initiated
this project because India needed gas for its energy needs at that
time. “I spent at least a year to pursue both Indis and Pakistan on
gas pipeline from Iran .
But today’s situation of India is quite different.
“We have discovered a lot of gas at home so our imported gas needs
have declined. Our government considers gas as ‘not so clean energy,’
instead nuclear energy is now on priority.”
However, he agreed that it would take 50 to 60 years to get benefit
from nuclear energy. “If we installed the entire installed capacity
of France in our country, we would cover only 5% of our energy requirements.”
In future days we would need imported gas. “Still I am convinced on
IPI project.” He said for this purpose, now India had to reinitiate
dialogue with both Iran and Pakistan , keeping in view the rates are
correct and other technical problems are solved. Only five to six
months are required for that purpose, he added.
In reply to another question, Mr. Shankar said some people in Armies,
political parties and media in both the countries do not want peace,
where as others want peace. In India some people also take excuses
of Pakistan ’s statement against India . In his view, most of the
opposition in his country about bilateral talks comes North Indian
side, where as South Indian people do not bother much about it.
In his views Pakistan Army has been in power directly or indirectly
particularly after 1958, where as in India the situation is quite
different. He recalled an incident in which Indian journalists met
Nawaz Sharif and told him about Pundit Jawahirlal Nehro’s role in
strengthening democracy in India . But Nawaz Sharif said credit goes
to him because he put Army under his thumb. He said he cannot say
how long Indian politicians can prevent its Army from take over because
in one-third provinces of India the government has failed to provide
economic relief to the people.
Shankar said it is very difficult to understand Pakistan ’s power
politics. According to him he has learned about Pakistani power politics
from a book ‘Making Sense of Pakistan” written by Farzana Shaikh.
He said President Zardari’s initial statement about India was very
encouraging and every India politician had welcomed it. “Even we suggested
to move forward and take benefit of the opportunity.” But situation
changed, when Indian Prime Minister talked to Pakistani Prime Minister,
who himself suggested to send DG of ISI to India . But when Pakistan
later said it was going to send a junior officer, it was like a slap
on our PM.
“In my view, we ( India ) should have accepted that offer too,” he
He said India has always wanted to initiate talks. In Sharm Al Shaikh
meeting all Pakistani demands were accepted, but Pakistan said it
was its victory, which put the thinks in reverse order.
To another question, he said in initial years of independence, people
who migrated from India and those who migrated from Pakistan created
hatred among two countries.