Unfazed by paint attack, former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri’s book was launched in Mumbai on Monday hours after columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni, who organized the event, was attacked with black paint by Shiv Sena activists protesting the event.
Speaking on the occasion, Kulkarni said, “It is our duty to undo the mistakes of the past. We should not let any organisation mar the values of Mumbai.”
Calling for the need to normalise the bilateral ties, the former BJP ideologue said, “Mumbai stands for India-Pak dialogue for peace, this function in the face of threats is vouching for that.”
“Things are changing in Pakistan, people there too want peace,” he said.
Commenting on Mumbai’s never-say-die spirit, Kulkarni said, “We shall defend and safeguard the values that Mumbai has stood for; we will not let any organisation trample those values.”
It’s on record that Jinnah after creation of Pakistan said that he was so attached with Bombay that he wanted to come back, Kulkarni added while speaking at the function attended by Kasuri.
New history can only be created via dialogue, two governments must continue dialogue. Our function is in that direction, Kulkarni said.
The former aide of BJP veteran LK Advani also praised Kasuri, saying he is a Pakistani yet 10 years ago he told him that his entire family is a family of Indian patriots.
His father was arrested in the Quit India Movement, they were all Congress supporters, Kulkarni said.
Replying to Shiv Sena’s protest to the event, Kulkarni said, “We went to meet Uddhav Thackeray yesterday to make him understand why we are having this event.”
“The purpose of writing this book is to correct some misconceptions,” Kausri said while speaking on his turn.
“PM Modi made a promise of development, but we have to have peace. I hope the PM realises that (former PM) AB Vajpayee’s route was the right one,” said Kasuri.
Hours before the launch of Kasuri’s book, main organiser Sudheendra Kulkarni was attacked and his face blackened by Shiv Sena activists. The incident was widely condemned but the party said it would continue its protests against the visiting Pakistani leader.
The incident happened when Kulkarni was leaving his home in Sion in south-central Mumbai, when a group of around a dozen Sena activists accosted him.
They shouted slogans and asked him to cancel the event scheduled later Monday and then smeared him with black ink.
An ally in the state’s ruling coalition and at the Centre, the Shiv Sena has strongly opposed the function to launch Kasuri’s book “Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove: An Insider Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy”.
The party warned that it would not allow the event, while Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured full support and security to the function organised by the Observer Research Foundation think tank.
A determined Kularni said: “The Shiv Sena has no authority to impose such a ban… We have taken a principled stand and will not cancel the event.”
Kasuri said he was “saddened and unhappy by this attack on Kulkarni whom I have known for many years” and condemned it. “…the right to protest must be peaceful and these people must change their tactics of protest,” he said at a hurriedly convened press conference here following the incident.
“I have come with a message of peace… An overwhelming majority of people in both countries want peace between the two countries… But, there are some who don’t want India-Pakistan peace,” he said.
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Shaina NC said the incident would be probed and those responsible for it would be booked.