‘Pakistanis Are Biggest Indian Asset,’ Says Mani Shankar Aiyar As He Calls For Resumption Of Dialogue

New Delhi: Amid speculations on the electoral fate doing the rounds in Pakistan, key political parties find themselves locked in a tense battle as the nation awaits the outcome of the general election results. With uncertainty looming over the prospect of a new prime minister emerging, concerns mount regarding the ability of the country to navigate its ongoing economic and political challenges and restore stability to the nation. At such a time, former Indian diplomat and politician, Mani Shankar Aiyar, expressed a unique perspective on the relationship between India and Pakistan, considering the people of Pakistan as India’s “single biggest asset” within the country, Dawn reported.

Speaking during a session titled "Hijr Ki Ash, Vishal Ka Phool" on Indo-Pak affairs at the Faiz Festival held at Alhamra, Aiyar emphasized the tendency of Pakistanis to mirror the behavior of their Indian counterparts often in a very overt way. He noted that Pakistanis often respond with excessive friendliness or hostility based on India’s actions.

“The Pakistanis, from my experience, have been the people who react perhaps overreact to the other side. If we are friendly, they are overfriendly and if we are hostile, they get over hostile,” Dawn quoted Aiyar as saying.

Reflecting on his experiences, Aiyar recalled being warmly welcomed in Pakistan, particularly during his tenure as consul general in Karachi. He recounted numerous instances of hospitality and camaraderie, which he documented in his book, "Memoirs of a Maverick," revealing a side of Pakistan contrary to Indian perceptions.

Aiyar stressed the importance of goodwill between the two nations, lamenting the deterioration of relations over the past decade since PM Narendra Modi’s first government came to power.

“Goodwill was needed but instead of goodwill, there had been something opposite during the last 10 years since the formation of the first Narendra Modi government,” Dawn quoted Aiyar as saying.

“All I ask the people (of Pakistan) is to remember that Modi has never received more than one-third of the votes but our system is such that if has one- third of the votes, he has two-thirds in the seats. So two-thirds of Indians are ready to come towards you (Pakistanis),” the report quoted him as saying.

Citing his friend Satindar Kumar Lambah, an Indian envoy involved in back-channel diplomacy, Aiyar highlighted the consensus among diplomats that dialogue with Pakistan is essential, regardless of political differences.< /p>

“There were five Indian high commissioners who served in the Congress government and the BJP government in Islamabad and all five of them unanimously agreed that whatever are our differences, we must engage with Pakistan and the biggest mistake that we made in the last 10 years was the refusing dialogue. We have the courage to conduct surgical strikes against you but we don’t have the courage to sit across the table and talk,” Dawn quoted Aiyar as saying.