ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has said that Pakistan is not begging for talks with India and long-lasting peace cannot be achieved in South Asia without solving the Kashmir dispute in accordance with wishes of its people.
Abdul Basit, in an exclusive interview with Rising Kashmir , said that Jammu and Kashmir was the basic and core dispute with India.
One day Pakistan and India would have to come on the negotiation table as without dialogue, the two countries could not resolve their problems.
When asked how the deadlock in talks can be broken, he said, “The present stalemate between the two countries would be over sooner or later as without dialogue we cannot solve our problems.”
He said, “It is pleasing to note that we have a framework for comprehensive bilateral dialogue. When Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Pakistan in December 2015, both the countries agreed and signed on this framework.”
Emphasizing that Islamabad does not believe in wasting time in talks for the sake of talks, Basit said that Pakistan wanted talks on substantive issues, specifically on Kashmir . “We consider Kashmir issue as the basic and core dispute between Pakistan and India and it should be resolved by taking into account the wishes of Kashmiri people.”
He said without solving the Kashmir dispute, durable peace between the two countries as well as in South Asia could not be established.
Replying to a question, the Pakistani envoy said the two countries had wasted 70 years in wars and bitterness and “the time has now come that we should search for peace. We need to decide whether we would like to continue with status quo or want to make a new beginning in our ties.”
He said the situation in Kashmir was alarming. “It reinforces the argument that there should be a dialogue and by using force one cannot solve any problem.”
When told that India says Islamabad is not addressing the concerns about “cross-border terrorism” for resumption of dialogue process, Basit said, “There should be no condition for dialogue. Our position is very clear that there can be no talk with pre-conditions. Talks should be with open mind and it should be done in a sincere and cordial atmosphere.”
He said many rounds of talks were held between Pakistan and India during 2004 to 2008 and those talks brought some good results. “It is not fair to put condition for talks. Whenever talks were held, it brought results,” he said.
When asked whether domestic compulsions are coming in Pakistan’s way of improving relations with India, Basit said, “The foreign policy is basically extension of domestic policies and you cannot separate it. However, I must say, there is a national consensus in Pakistan for improving ties with India. I can say that Pakistani nation has come of age or became mature enough as nobody wants to bedevil relations with India.”
“We do not want to live in perpetual hostility with India but that does not mean we are begging for talks,” he said, adding, “Pakistan is positive and constructive, but it takes two to tango.” – APP