Musharraf’s comment on failed Agra Summit: ‘Hidden Hand’ says ‘Maine Dekha Hai’

December 7th, 2010 - 7:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Pervez Musharraf New Delhi, Dec.7 (ANI): Senior External Affairs Ministry official Vivek Katju on Tuesday said he had read former Pakistan President General (retired) Pervez Musharraf’s acerbic comment that he was the “Hidden Hand” who was responsible for the failure of the India-Pakistan summit meeting in Agra in 2001.

When Katju, who is currently Secretary (West) in the ministry, was asked today to give his response to Musharraf’s comment, he laconically said: “Maine Dekha Hai”, and refused to elaborate further.

Musharraf had said a couple of days ago that the Agra Summit between him and Indian Prime Minister Atal Valpayee would have been a brilliant strategic and public relations victory for him (Musharraf) and Pakistan, had a “Hidden Hand” not intervened to stop the Indian side from recognizing Kashmir as a key issue once again and insisted that the Shimla agreement of July 1972 be mentioned in the draft agreement.

According to Musharraf, it was Katju, then a joint secretary for the Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan (IPA) Division in the Ministry of External Affairs, and not India’s then Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister L.K. Advani, as many then believed, who played spoilsport, and ensured the summit’s collapse and sabotage.

According to Musharraf, had Katju not had the ear of Prime Minister Vajpayee, the Agra summit would have come out with the following conclusions: 1) Brought Kashmir back from the backburner and both countries recognized it as an issue; 2) Made the Pakistani position known to the population of India and 3) Allowed hitherto unknown access of a Pakistani president to the Indian news media.

It maybe recalled that Katju was asked to be present during the one-to-one meeting between Vajpayee and Musharraf. Musharraf is said to have suggested to Vajpayee that there was no need for Katju to be present in the room during their discussions, but the Indian Prime Minister brushed aside his concerns, and allowed Katju to stay, and “he took notes”, as a diplomat is trained to do during an official interaction.

“There was someone from the foreign ministry sitting there named Katju. He may still be there, he created a lot of hurdles,” recalled Musharraf recently, adding that both he and Vajpayee wanted the meeting to succeed and tried hard to work out a joint statement, but these efforts were scuttled.

While the meeting was in progress, Musharraf is said to have turned to Katju and asked him “What are you writing so much? I hope you are writing what we are saying to each other? In response, Katju is said to have smiled, and continued with his note taking.

“I told Vajpayee saheb before leaving Agra (in 2001) - ‘Today you and I have been both humiliated because there is someone above us, sitting above us who can veto what we decide.”

The importance attached to this aspect of a key meeting between leaders of two countries suggests that whether it is a president or a prime minister, he or she will always rely on or lean on their foreign minister, foreign office, or senior bureaucrats attached with the foreign office for advise or suggestions regarding foreign policy/stances on issues that are crucial or otherwise.

A recent instance supporting this contention was Pakistan Foreign Minister S M Qureshi’s comment after a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna in Islamabad in July this year, where he controversially said that the Indian delegation seemed to be getting its orders from New Delhi.

He had then also accused India of being “selective” in its approach on bilateral issues, and branded it as “not ready for talks”.

That led to a delayed, but firm response from New Delhi, which diplomatically said all issues could be put on the table and discussed once Pakistan took effective action against terrorism directed against India.

Musharraf, who had to leave Agra without getting the Vajpayee Government to sign the proposed Agra Declaration, had earlier in his book, In The Line Of Fire, blamed “hardliner” Advani of scuttling the summit.

Advani, in his autobiography, My Country My Life, refutes the allegations and argues that Musharraf was a slippery customer, keen to rewrite India-Pakistan relations totally on his own terms.

Advani also says there was no divergence of views between him and Vajpayee as was being promoted by the media in the public domain then.

Katju was appointed India’s envoy to Afghanistan in 2002. He was also among Indian officials who negotiated with terrorists in the Kandahar hijacking case in 1999. (ANI)

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