Mani Shankar Aiyar, a prominent Congress leader and former Indian diplomat, expressed his sentiments regarding the warm reception he received in Pakistan, noting it as unparalleled in any other country he had visited. He emphasized the Pakistani people's tendency to react strongly to the demeanor of others, being exceedingly friendly in response to friendliness and overly hostile when faced with hostility.
During a session titled ‘Hijr Ki Rakh, Visaal Kay Phool, Indo-Pak Affairs’ at the Faiz Festival in Lahore, Aiyar recounted his experiences, highlighting the hospitality he and his wife received during his tenure as Consul General in Karachi. His observations, chronicled in his book "Memoirs of a Maverick," portray Pakistan in a light distinct from Indian perceptions.
“The Pakistanis, from my experience, have been the people who react perhaps overreact to the other side. If we are friendly, they are over-friendly and if we are hostile, they get over hostile,” Aiyar was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
Aiyar lamented the deterioration of goodwill between India and Pakistan over the past decade, particularly since the formation of the first Narendra Modi government in 2014. He pointed out the adverse impact of terrorism on bilateral relations, emphasizing India's stance that dialogue cannot coexist with terrorism.
Regarding the reluctance of the Hindutva establishment in India to engage in talks with Pakistan, Aiyar expressed skepticism, suggesting that despite Modi's electoral victories, a significant portion of Indians remains open to engagement with Pakistan.
All I ask the people (of Pakistan) is to remember that (Prime Minister) Modi has never received more than one-third of the votes but our system is such that if has one-third of the votes, he has two-thirds in the seats. So two-thirds of Indians are ready to come towards you (Pakistanis),” he said.
In light of strained governmental relations, Aiyar proposed continued interaction between businessmen, students, and academics from both countries, advocating for people-to-people contact as a means of fostering understanding and cooperation beyond political barriers.