Days after it forced the cancellation of a performance by Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali, the Shiv Sena is now bent on wrecking yet another cross-border event, despite the organisers’ attempts to include the party in an open discussion of their objections.
Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri
Once again citing the cross-border tension between Pakistan and India, the Sena has threatened to protest the launch of a book by former Pakistan foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, scheduled to be held in the city today. Keen to continue with the programme, however, the Observer Research Foundation, Mumbai — which is organising the event — has said Sena leaders should instead attend the event and voice their objections there.
The event is to be held in collaboration with Penguin Books India, at 5.30 pm today at the Nehru Centre, where the book, titled ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy’ will be launched. On Friday, the ORF had asked CM Devendra Fadnavis to ensure that adequate security is provided for the event.
The next day, the organisers received a threat letter by Sena leaders, including Sunil Shinde, MLA for Worli. “Shiv Sena will not support any ties with Pakistan. Irrespective of what the programme is, Sena will not let it happen. If the programme still takes place, the Shiv Sena will disrupt the event and the responsibility will be that of the Nehru Centre,” the letter further stated.
Yesterday, the ORF responded with a statement confirming that they will continue with the event. “We believe that problems between India and Pakistan can be resolved through mutual dialogue between both the governments and the people. The book launch event is our humble but determined attempt to further the dialogue,” the statement read.
Sources from the Nehru Centre confirmed: “As of now the event will be held on October 12 at the scheduled time. It is not a public function.” Incidentally, former Sena MP Bharatkumar Raut was to attend the event. However, Raut said his plans had changed. “I was a former MP of Shiv Sena. That is my past, now I am a journalist. I had accepted the invitation, but because of some urgent work, I won't be in Mumbai to attend the function.”
Addressing an event in Chandigarh yesterday, Kasuri said, “We should not allow ourselves to be hostage to those who do not want peace. If we have to defeat the terrorists and negative forces, both sides should stick to and remain firm that they will keep talking (to each other) no matter what.”
“For 11 months, we had 11 million soldiers standing eyeball to eyeball... No problem can be solved by war. Ultimately, one has to sit across the negotiating table. Only a mad person can think about going to war. Both nations have nuclear weapons, missiles, strike capabilities.
We have to make it clear to them (negative forces) that we want to continue (talks),” he said. “I believe that if we encourage people-to-people contact, have more cultural exchanges and play cricket, we can defeat these negative forces,” he added.