Former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said that then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif that no Indian PM could “sign away” Kashmir.In a chapter called “The Pakistan Puzzle”, in his new book, The Other Side of The Mountain, Khurshid has recalled a meeting between Singh and Sharif in late September 2013, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, when the Indian PM reportedly told his Pakistani counterpart: “Mian Saheb, no Indian Prime Minister can sign away Kashmir, and nor can I. Subject to that, the sky is the limit.”
Khurshid has said that the UPA-II government tried to push peace talks with Pakistan, despite the 2008 Mumbai attacks that made “business as usual” very difficult.
Recalling the Sharm-el-Sheikh meeting on July 16, 2009, between then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his then counterpart Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani as a sincere attempt to take things forward after the Mumbai attacks, he has said that the BJP created a “merry stink” over the issue.
Khurshid has written of a robust Track-II engagement with Pakistan, including initiatives taken by “India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) to bring religious leaders of the two countries to speak to each other”.
He says the Track-II engagement between the two countries was a “useful safety valve”.
Admitting that the AAP launched an effective campaign, Khurshid has said it forced the UPA-II government to make “unforced errors”. Recalling a meeting with Anna Hazare in Pune on June 23, 2012, he says that Hazare wanted some rural development projects and promised to call off his proposed all-India tour. On the Lokpal, Hazare asked for a “reasonable timeline” and “even offered to campaign for the Congress.”
Hazare reportedly told Khurshid to “say anything to divert people from the fact of the meeting, till we seal our agreement with a letter from the PM. Thereafter, I’ll be more than happy to share a stage with you.” When Hazare that it would be a falsehood, the latter smiled and said, “a little of that for the nation is not wrong.”
Speaking of the “untimely death” of former Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati on September 2, 2014, Khurshid says he died too soon “because of the psychological assaults he suffered during UPA-II”.
Khurshid says Vahanvati was “repeatedly pushed to the wall and made self-conscious” during the 2G trial.