Pakistan News

Delhi urged not to put Kashmir on back-burner

Delhi urged not to put Kashmir on back-burner

NEW DELHI: There is a national consensus in Pakistan for seeking normal and peaceful relationship with India, but this could not be achieved by putting the issue of Kashmir on the back-burner, High Commissioner Abdul Basit said here on Thursday.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club, Mr Basit described the current state of the composite dialogue as effectively suspended. Local reports said Mr Basit’s blunt comments would add to the problems of the Modi government, particularly in key state polls currently taking place. The prime minister has come under severe criticism from the opposition for alleged appeasement of Pakistan.

The reports quoted Mr Basit as saying that the JIT probe into the Pathankot terror attack was aimed at finding the truth and reciprocity was not its main objective. Indian reports suggested that the envoy had dropped a hint that allowing Indian agencies access to suspects in Pakistan was not certain. The Pakistani mission’s summary of the news conference was silent about this.

“There shouldn’t be any doubt that Pakistan wants to have a normal and peaceful relationship with India on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual interest. There is national consensus on this in Pakistan,” he said.

There is, however, no short-cut to achieving a lasting peace. “Nor does cherry-picking work. What we need is to engage uninterruptedly, comprehensively, and meaningfully,” Mr Basit was quoted as saying.

“Let’s be realistic,” he said. “It is the Jammu & Kashmir dispute that is the root cause of mutual distrust and other bilateral issues. Therefore, its fair and just resolution, as per the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, is imperative. Attempts to put it on the back burner will be counterproductive.”

Mr Basit was speaking two days after a new coalition government was installed in Srinagar, including a party considered to be attentive to some leaders of the Hurriyat Conference. The alliance is shored up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal intervention to ensure that it works despite obvious contradictions.

Appealing for taking the Kashmir issue head on, Mr Basit said: “It is high time to break the carapace of complacency and dispense with self-serving approaches.”

He slammed Indian agencies without naming them. “The recent arrest of Kulbhushan (Jadhav) in Pakistan irrefutably corroborates what Pakistan has been saying all along. We all are aware of those who seek to create unrest in Pakistan and destabilise the country. They are bound to fail as the people of Pakistan are united to effectively counter anti-Pakistan subversive activities.”

Mr Basit said that in the last one month, Pakistani authorities have arrested scores of terror operatives with foreign linkages. “The presence of such elements is quite disturbing to say the least.”

However, Pakistan is confidently moving forward, he said. The Zarb-e-Azb operation against terrorism and militancy is yielding good results.

“Our economy is also showing signs of recovery. Macro-economic indicators are encouraging. There is special emphasis on infrastructure development and energy projects. With growing foreign investments the overall economic situation is steadily improving.”

While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly believes in enhancing regional cooperation and connectivity, a strong regional cooperative structure cannot be built on unpredictable bilateral relations.

“We need to move on all fronts simultaneously if we are to benefit from the opportunities unleashed by globalisation. The 19th Saarc Summit will be held in Islamabad in November this year. We sincerely hope the summit, building on the past achievements, would help create more synergies and win-win situations.”

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2016

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