Ex-spy chiefs urge India, Pakistan to talk, play cricket

London: Asserting that war was no more an option, two former spy chiefs of Pakistan and India have stressed on the urgent need for diplomatic talks and communications between Islamabad and New Delhi.

Former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General, General (Retd) Ehsanul Haq, and former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Amarjit Singh Dulat made this assertion during a public debate at the London School of Economics (LSE) packed Sheikh Zayed Theatre here, Geo News reported.

During the talk organised by South Asia Centre, LSE’s Pakistan Development Society and the South Asia Future Forum, both agreed that war was no more an option, adding the leadership of both sides should move meaningfully towards speaking to each other at all levels and end communications boycott.

Both spoke at length during the event outlining the intelligence perspective of their respective countries, answering questions of the audience and sharing jokes with each other.

“Interaction must be such that even when there is a breakdown in diplomatic relations between states and entities, the intelligence channel must continue because that becomes the last resort for venting and pre-empting crisis, the initiative for this has to come from the political level down,” Geo News quoted General (Retd) Haq as saying while responding to a question.

He stressed that the Indian government had done no favour to the region by ending the communication channels.

Dulat on his part said that intelligence sharing between the two sides at one point may have “saved Pervez Musharraf’s life which in a way was acknowledged”.

General (Retd) Haq in his remarks said the potential of the whole South Asian region is stunted because of differences between India and Pakistan and mainly because of the issue of Kashmir, which for Pakistan is the core issue.

General (Retd) Haq said alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s arrest and revelations in Pakistan provided “irrefutable evidence” of India’s involvement in Balochistan and other parts.

The former ISI chief said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “ratcheted up harsh rhetoric against Pakistan as a political and electoral tool” to play to the local sentiment for political reasons.

Dulat said that India has borne the brunt of terrorism and “Pakistan is also suffering because of terrorism”.

He said it makes no sense to him that India has relations with every country in the world but no relations with Pakistan.

Responding to a poser, both agreed that Pakistan and India should play cricket.