Observer Research Foundation Chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was sprayed with black paint by Shiv Sainiks for organising former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch in Mumbai, will travel to Karachi in the first week of November to attend the launch of the same book.
Kulkarni said that he has accepted Kasuri’s invitation to join the launch of his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove’ in Karachi on November 2, along with a number of prominent Pakistanis and Indians.
The ORF chairman made the announcement at a panel discussion during the Tata Literature Live festival Thursday night.
Both Kasuri, who was in Delhi in early October in connection with his book launch, and Kulkarni, who had invited him to launch his book in Mumbai, were repeatedly warned by the Shiv Sena to cancel the event.
However, they refused to bow down to this pressure.
Later, Kulkarni became the victim of a paint attack by Shiv Sena members ahead of the launch of Kasuri’s book in Mumbai on October 12.
The Shiv Sena had vehemently opposed the event and threatened to disrupt it.
Prior to it, the Sena had also forced the cancellation of Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai.
Kulkarni said he was “both delighted and excited at the opportunity to visit Pakistan next week (November 1-4).”
“I thank Mr Kasuri for inviting me to participate in the function to launch his book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove’ in Karachi on November 2. His book is a major contribution to the India-Pakistan peace process, since it provides a detailed narration on the large degree of consensus reached between the previous governments in New Delhi and Islamabad on resolving the vexed Kashmir issue,” he said.
Kulkarni also mentioned that he had the privilege of organising the launch of Kasuri’s book in Mumbai earlier this month.
“The courageous solidarity shown by the people of Mumbai ensured the success of the function despite the unlawful threat by the Shiv Sena to disrupt it,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
He also thanked the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations for inviting him to participate in a seminar on Pakistan-India relations on November 3.
Referring to his previous visit, Kulkarni said, “I have vivid memories of my last visit to Karachi in 2005 when I accompanied L K Advani.”
It was a visit that became controversial because of his perfectly appropriate tribute to Qaid-I-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
“I look forward to visiting Jinnah’s mausoleum again, since I am convinced that his vision and ideals, along with those of Mahatma Gandhi, can surely help India and Pakistan in their search for peace, normalisation and Hindu-Muslim unity,” the ORF chairman said, adding that “in particular, I strongly believe that the time has come to de-demonise Jinnah in the collective mind of Indians.”
He also believed that both the countries need to learn from the mistakes made in the past.
“Both Indians and Pakistanis need to revisit the complex history of partition with an open mind and learn from the costly mistakes committed in the past,” he said.
“We should forge a new path of reconciliation through dialogue in which there is no place for wars and violent border conflicts, no place for terrorism and religious bigotry, no place for majoritarianism and denial of minority rights in either country, and no place at all for an artificial wall dividing the people of our two countries who are proud inheritors of a rich and common civilisation,” Kulkarni added.