Outgoing Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit makes strong pitch for talks
New Delhi: Outgoing Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit on Saturday said a dialogue between India and Pakistan was a “pre-requisite” and a “necessity” to mend relations between the neighbours, which might require “give and take” from both sides.
Basit punctuated his pitch for dialogue with his advocacy for “self-determination” of the Kashmiri populace. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute must be resolved for any real progress, he said. “Both the countries need to decide that they need to be engaged...as was decided at Sharm El Sheikh, where we took a considered decision to separate talks from terrorism. We should not be hostage to forces that do not want progress,” he said.
Basit made the remarks at an event, likely to be his last public engagement in New Delhi before demitting office, organised by the ‘South Asia Forum for Art and Creative Heritage’. Pakistan maintains that a joint statement issued after talks between former prime minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani in the Egyptian city in 2009 had delinked dialogue from action against terrorism.
“Engagement is the key. Dialogue is a pre-requisite and a necessity to resolve our problems. Talks may not produce immediate results,” he said, adding “compromises always involve give and take”, when asked if Pakistan was ready to make certain concessions.
The India-Pakistan peace process came to an abrupt halt after the Pathankot terror attack in 2016. Since then, bilateral ties have worsened, entering a period of fresh uncertainty with the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan’s Prime Minister by the country’s top court.
“Pathankot or no Pathankot, we need to decide that we will not disrupt the dialogue process. While we were cooperating on the Pathankot issue, we could have carried on the dialogue process. That would have helped,” he said.
Basit was appointed as the High Commissioner to India in 2014. He will replaced by Sohail Mahmood, who is expected to take up his responsibilities next month. Basit, who was twice overlooked for the post of Pakistan’s foreign secretary, said it was important “to get real” on the question of mending ties. “If we muster the political will, we can find a solution to our problems. Whenever we engage, we manage to get good results. We need to commence a dialogue process and ensure that the CBMs (Confidence Building Measures) are adhered to in letter and spirit. We must not allow artificial barriers between the two countries,” he said.
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