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Basit calls for talks between Pakistan, India

Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has called for “result-oriented engagement” between Islamabad and New Delhi in order for them to establish a durable peace in the region.

In an interview with Indian Express daily, Mr Basit said Pakistan did not see dialogue as a favour that could be extended by one country to another.

“Dialogue is in our mutual interest. If India is ready, Pakistan will be willing [to hold talks]; if India is not ready then we can always wait for India to make up its mind,” he said.

He recalled that the Indian prime minister had rightly said in a recent speech that the two countries should fight poverty. “If we are to fight against poverty, I think we need to work together.”

In the interview Mr Basit also spoke at length about the surgical strikes purported to have been carried out by Indian troops in Azad Kashmir and the recent postponement of the Saarc summit.

When he was asked why was Pakistan denying the so-called “surgical strikes”, the high commissioner said: “Firstly, this is for the first time that India has publicly acknowledged to have breached the 2003 ceasefire understanding; so this is quite significant. Secondly… the commonly acceptable definition of surgical strike has been modulated unilaterally by India.

“The official statement issued by India… very clearly suggests that the action took place along the Line of Control [LoC], not across it. Now, as far as Pakistan is concerned, we haven’t seen any activity on Sept 29 other than the usual cross-LoC firing and you know what our stance is.”

Mr Basit said that any attack inside Pakistan by the Indian forces would be retaliated immediately. “We are confident that our deterrence is working. It is important to avoid drawing wrong conclusions and raising false expectations, because it is not in our mutual interest to push ourselves to the precipice.”

He said the militant attacks in Uri and Baramulla, in India-held Kashmir, clearly showed that the Kashmir dispute needed to be resolved… in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. “That continues to be our position.”

Answering a question about the postponement of the Saarc summit, Mr Basit said: “You know Pakistan is too big a country to be isolated; so we are not worried about that, and I am sure good sense will prevail and [we] will host the 19th Saarc summit at an appropriate time.”

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2016

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