If Pakistan, India ever forge peaceful relations, its credit will also go to Lambah: Pak’s ex-diplomats

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Islamabad/Lahore,
Jul
2:

Satinder
Lambah
was
an
“epitome
of
diplomacy”
and
if
Pakistan
and
India
can
ever
forge
peaceful
relations,
its
credit
will
also
go
to
the
veteran
Indian
diplomat
and
his
tireless
efforts
will
not
go
“waste,”
an
ex-foreign
minister
of
Pakistan
and
prominent
former
diplomats
said
on
Saturday.
Lambah,
81,
passed
away
in
New
Delhi
on
Thursday.

He
headed
the
crucial
backchannel
diplomatic
negotiations
between
India
and
Pakistan
from
2005
to
2014.
He
was
India’s
High
Commissioner
in
Islamabad
from
1992
to
1995.
Riaz
Mohammad
Khan,
a
Pakistani
counterpart
of
Lambah
in
the
backchannel
communication
process,
paid
tribute
to
the
Indian
diplomat,
saying
if
ever
peace
was
created
between
Pakistan
and
India
“its
credit
will
also
go
to
Lambah”.

Khan,
former
foreign
secretary,
was
the
point
person
from
Pakistan
between
2010
and
2013
to
interact
with
Lambah,
as
the
two
sides
made
a
vain
epic
effort
to
untangle
their
complex
relationship
by
trying
to
address
among
others
the
Kashmir
issue.
Former
Pakistan
foriegn
minister
Khurshed
Kasuri
said
the
foundation
Lambah
laid
in
the
form
of
back-channel
diplomacy
will
eventually
bear
fruit
one
day.
“I
offer
my
deepest
condolences
to
the
family
of
Lambah.
His
efforts
for
peace
between
India
and
Pakistan
will
long
be
remembered,”
Kasuri
told
PTI.
Showering
praise
on
Lambah,
Kasuri
said:
“I
had
worked
with
him
and
his
efforts
for
peace
between
the
two
countries
will
not
go
in
waste…
I
tell
you.”

He
said
some
six
persons
including
the
civil
and
military
leaders
from
each
side
were
involved
in
track-II
diplomacy
in
the
1990s
in
which
Lambah
from
India’s
side
and
Tariq
Aziz
from
Pakistan
were
overseeing
the
peace
efforts.
Kasuri
also
said
that
when
he
became
foreign
minister
he
met
a
number
of
people
in
India
including
Lambah
who
agreed
with
him
that
in
the
case
of
India
and
Pakistan
the
relations
suddenly
went
up
and
down
and
there
was
a
need
that
both
sides
remained
engaged
in
dialogue.
In
a
telephonic
interview
with
PTI,
Khan,
the
former
foreign
secretary,
recalled
his
first
meeting
with
Lambah
in
January
2010,
as
the
two
diplomats
exchanged
their
views
within
the
parameters
of
the
ongoing
backchannel
communication
process.

“First
of
all,
I
am
deeply
saddened
by
his
passing
away.
I
have
immense
respect
for
him
and
his
efforts,”
Khan
said,
adding
that
Lambah
was
a
great
diplomat
and
“a
man
of
peace
who
cared
a
lot
for
our
region.
He
was
a
very
positive
person.”
Khan
was
asked
to
lead
the
process
from
the
Pakistani
side
after
Tariq
Aziz,
a
trusted
fellow
of
then
president
Pervez
Musharraf
and
the
original
architect
of
the
backchannel
communication
along
with
Lambah,
asked
the
government
to
relieve
him
of
the
onerous
assignment.
Khan
recalled
that
Pakistan
and
India
had
come
a
long
way
to
develop
an
understanding
of
how
to
address
their
thorny
issues
through
backchannel
communication.

“The
major
success
of
the
process
was
that
we
had
everything
in
black
and
white.
We
developed
a
framework
in
writing
by
2007
when
the
final
draft
came
from
India,”
he
said,
adding
that
New
Delhi
had
taken
about
two
years
to
return
the
draft
sent
by
Islamabad.
Talking
about
Kashmir,
Khan
said
that
the
two
sides
had
agreed
on
the
formula
of
self-governance
for
the
sub-regions
of
Kashmir.

Khan
said
several
joint
mechanisms
were
proposed
to
resolve
various
issues
arising
out
of
the
self-governance
formula.
He
said
that
the
process
of
backchannel
communication
was
first
hit
by
the
judiciary
movement
in
Pakistan
in
2007
and
later
the
2008
Mumbai
terror
attack
stalled
it.
But
Khan
said
that
secret
efforts
and
communications
went
on
between
the
two
sides
until
2014
when
the
process
was
stopped.
“The
formula
we
had
worked
out
with
Lambah
was
the
best
possible
approach
that
the
two
countries
could
have
developed
under
the
(then)
circumstances,”
he
said,
adding
the
paperwork
was
complete
and
the
entire
process
owed
a
lot
to
Lambah,
who
led
the
Indian
sides
in
those
long
years
of
secret
communication.
“Whenever
something
is
resurrected
out
of
the
work
done
so
far,
leading
to
peace
between
Pakistan
and
India,
the
credit
will
also
go
to
Lambah,”
Khan
said
on
the
late
Indian
diplomat
who
was
born
in
Peshawar.

Former
high
commissioner
to
India
Abdul
Basit
also
talked
to
PTI
about
his
interaction
with
Lambah
and
his
impression
of
his
efforts
for
peace.
“I
met
him
many
times
during
my
stay
in
India
and
found
him
to
be
a
thorough
diplomat.
He
had
good
connections
in
Pakistan
as
he
served
as
deputy
high
commissioner
and
high
commissioner
here,
and
was
involved
in
backchannel
diplomacy,”
Basit
said.

He
said
that
Lambah
was
close
to
former
prime
minister
Nawaz
Sharif
who
hosted
a
lunch
in
his
honour
even
against
the
advice
of
the
Foreign
Office.
Basit
acknowledged
Lambah’s
desire
for
peace,
saying
“all
diplomats
generally
work
for
peace”.
He
also
said
that
Lambah
never
compromised
on
the
interests
of
his
country,
which
he
said
was
the
best
quality
of
any
diplomat.
Former
foreign
secretary
Shamshad
Ahmad
Khan
in
an
interview
with
PTI
termed
the
death
of
Lambah
an
irreparable
loss
to
the
peace
diplomacy
between
Pakistan
and
India
while
offering
his
heartfelt
condolence
to
his
family.

“Lambah
was
among
those
people
of
Indian
foreign
service
who
could
be
called
as
epitome
of
diplomacy,”
he
said.
Khan
said
that
Lambah
made
sincere
efforts
for
peace
but
his
efforts
could
not
succeed
due
to
the
peculiar
dynamics
of
relations
between
the
two
countries.
“I
have
a
lot
of
respect
for
him,”
he
said.
He
said
what
Lambah
did
for
peace
was
the
“most
meaningful
and
purposeful
effort”
ever
made
between
the
two
nations.

“If
Lambah
was
my
counterpart
and
we
had
the
full
backing
of
the
political
leadership,
I
can
assure
that
we
would
solve
all
problems
between
Pakistan
and
India
within
two
months,”
Khan
said,
adding
that
Lambah
has
died
but
he
created
a
tradition
which
“we
need
to
resume
as
early
as
possible”.
Senior
Pakistani
defence
analyst
Hasan
Askari
said
Lambah
had
personal
friendships
in
Pakistan
that
no
one
in
the
diplomatic
fraternity
has
today.
“For
Track-II
diplomacy
between
two
rival
countries
like
India
and
Pakistan,
you
need
diplomats
with
personal
relations
in
each
other’s
country…
Lambah
had
that.
But
unfortunately,
today
neither
in
India
nor
in
Pakistan
we
don’t
have
diplomats
who
could
claim
that
they
have
good
personal
relations
in
each
other’s
countries.
And
this
is
so
because
of
strained
relations
between
the
two
countries
for
years,”
Askari
said.

He
said
Lambah
with
his
experience
and
personal
relationship
in
Pakistan
remained
effectively
engaged
in
Track-II
diplomacy
and
helped
in
easing
out
tensions
between
them.
“Actually,
the
track-II
diplomacy
(between
India
and
Pakistan)
began
back
in
the
late
1980s
on
the
efforts
of
some
friendly
countries,
especially
the
US
to
find
non-official
ways
to
improve
the
relationship
between
the
two
countries.
And
this
helped
too
at
the
times
of
tensions
between
them,”
he
said.
Askari
who
also
remained
part
of
the
think
tank
here
is
of
the
view
that
Pakistan
and
India
need
to
engage
in
dialogue
as
currently,
the
relations
between
them
are
at
the
lowest
ebb.
Both
sides’ governments
are
shy
of
taking
any
such
step
because
of
their
domestic
troubles.
If
the
(Narendra)
Modi
government
initiates
talks
with
Pakistan,
its
own
party
workers
would
turn
against
it
and
if
the
Shehbaz
government
extends
hands
of
friendship
to
India
the
opposition
here
will
take
it
to
task,”
he
said,
adding
that
the
resolution
of
long
time
disputes
between
the
two
countries
needs
formal
dialogues,
not
track-II
diplomacy.

Mohammad
Zamir,
a
veteran
former
Bangladeshi
diplomat
who
was
entrusted
with
the
task
of
opening
the
India
Desk
at
the
foreign
ministry
soon
after
the
independence
in
1971,
said
he
was
in
touch
with
Lambah
at
that
time.
“I
am
very
sad
to
know
that
he
has
passed
away.
May
his
soul
remain
in
eternal
peace.
We
used
to
(fondly)
call
him
Sati
Lambah.
He
was
a
person
who
valued
friendship
and
had
a
very
proactive
engagement
in
Bangladesh.
“He
was
involved
with
Bangladesh
in
different
ways
and
different
processes,
while
I
was
the
Director
in
charge
of
the
India
Desk
in
the
foreign
office
after
the
1971
Liberation.
He
was
based
in
Delhi
but
used
to
visit
Bangladesh
frequently
and
also
stayed
in
Dhaka
for
some
time.” Lambah,
who
had
a
wealth
of
experience
in
dealing
with
India’s
neighbourhood
and
was
instrumental
in
setting
up
of
the
Indian
High
Commission
in
Dhaka
soon
after
Bangladesh’s
Liberation,
the
Indian
mission
tweeted.
PTI

Story first published: Saturday, July 2, 2022, 20:24 [IST]

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