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

Lambah, 81, passed away in New Delhi on Thursday. He headed the crucial backchannel diplomatic negotiations between India and Pakistan from 2005 to 2014.

July 02, 2022 / 06:31 PM IST
[Image: Shutterstock]

[Image: Shutterstock]


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, prominent former members of the Pakistani diplomatic community 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.


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.


In a telephonic interview with PTI, Khan 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.

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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.

PTI
first published: Jul 2, 2022 06:31 pm
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