What was the purpose of your visit to Pakistan? Did you meet a lot of people in the government?
This trip was on the cards for a while. I have many friends there, being part of the Belusa group (an influential Track ll group). Moreover, my wifes niece is married to the deputy high commissioner, Sudhir Vyas. Yes, there were many people whom I met during my fortnight-long trip to Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad including Major General Mehmood Durani, chief of general staff Aziz Khan, industrialist Babar Ali and several serving as well as retired officials and politicians.
Were you sent as a government emissary?
No. There was absolutely no official tag and it was entirely my initiative.
So how was your meeting with General Pervez Musharraf?
Firstly, I wanted to understand his mental make-up. In most of his interviews and statements, he has been harping on limited points with respect to India. The most important being Kashmir, which he reckons is the core issue.
What did you have to say?
It was a rather frank discussion. I told him that as far as India was concerned, Kashmir was an internal matter. But I pointed out that there were other equally important issues which needed to be addressed such as people-to-people contact between the two countries. Many relatives live on either side of the border and there is a great need for movement. That could be an important starting point.
Was the General impressed with your arguments? What was the outcome?
I pointed out to him that it was necessary to first and foremost establish a healthy working chemistry. If the two leaders meet after a handshake in the US, Kashmir cannot be the next subject. The Indian governments stated position is there has to be a...