Did ex-Pakistan army chief Bajwa pursue backdoor diplomacy channels with India? | India News

NEW DELHI: Senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir has made startling revelations about the existence of backdoor diplomacy channels between the two neighbours during Qamar Javed Bajwa‘s tenure as Pakistan army chief.
In his article in the Pakistani daily Jang, Mir claimed that Bajwa kept the then Imran Khan-led government in the dark even as the military establishment held secret talks with India.
The journalist gave several examples to illustrate how the former Pakistan army chief kept the backdoor channels open with India.
ISI chief replacement
Mir alleged that in June 2019, Pakistan replaced then ISI chief Syed Asim Munir suddenly since he was disliked by Imran Khan and was unsuitable for Bajwa’s backdoor channel with India.
Mir also said that the opening of Kartarpur corridor for Sikh devotees was part of General Bajwa’s backdoor diplomacy with India.
In his column, Mir said that Pakistan chose to ignore UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report on Kashmir (which was roundly rejected and slammed by India) and went ahead with the opening of the visa-free corridor linking the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, with India’s Gurdaspur.
Ceasefire in 2021
The Pakistani journalist further claimed that the surprise announcement of ceasefire along LoC by Indian and Pakistani armies in February 2021 was also a result of backdoor diplomacy. He added that the Pakistan foreign office was not aware of the development.
“On March 23, 2021, Narendra Modi wrote a letter to Imran Khan on Pakistan Day. These developments took foreign office by surprise. It was only then that Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE Ambassador to the US, revealed that secret talks between Faiz Hameed and Ajit Doval in Dubai have gone ahead,” Mir wrote.
PM Modi was to visit Pakistan?
Mir also claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to visit Pakistan in April 2021 in an effort to reset ties between the neighbours.
He claimed that during the visit, India was set to announce the opening of trade ties with Pakistan while both countries would mutually set aside the Kashmir issue for 20 years.
Notably, nobody from the Indian side has ever claimed or even acknowledged the existence of such a visit.
Mir added that PM Modi’s purported visit was called off after then Pakistan PM Imran Khan backed out of it and “refused to let go of the Kashmir issue”.
The journalist claimed then foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who allegedly had a hawkish stand on ties with India, warned Imran against PM Modi’s purported visit.
“We have to go to election too, we will be accused of selling Kashmir,” Shah is said to have told Imran, as per Mir. Elections were held in Pakistan occupied Kashmir later that year.
India had strongly rejected the elections, saying that the polls were an attempt to camouflage Pakistan’s illegal occupation of the region.
Withdrawal of J&K’s special status
In his column, Mir also claimed that Bajwa was furious after India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
“He [Bajwa] complained to Khan Sahib [Imran] that whatever we [Pak army] did, we did it by asking you. Khan sahib told him to go slowly and let the opposition in,” Mir wrote.
He added that Qureshi told Bajwa that Pakistan will not restore ties with India unless the latter revokes its decision on Article 370.
Imran’s speech at UN
In another interesting revelation, Mir said that Imran’s fiery speech at the UN General Assembly in which the then Pakistan PM targeted India scuttled the backdoor talks between the neighbours.
The speech, Mir claimed, sparked tensions between Imran – once army’s favourite – and then Pak army chief Bajwa.
“In September 2021, Imran Khan disappointed Bajwa by repeating Pakistan’s old traditional position on Kashmir in the United Nations General Assembly session, but Bajwa continued to give hope to India through the back channel saying that there would be a breakthrough in April 2022,” Mir wrote.

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