NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s new envoy in India Salman Bashir sees a sea change in the atmospherics with India and he told an Indian news channel on Sunday that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s likely visit to Islamabad would not only cement the ties but take them substantially forward.
“I think the atmospherics have witnessed a sea change,” Mr Bashir told TV anchor Karan Thapar a day after presenting his credentials to Indian President Pratibha Patil.
“Let me say that it was in Thimpu when both our prime ministers met and had a plus one-hour conversation and then later they called us and briefed us. And it was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who said that we should invest in building trusts by having frequent visits, exchanges at all levels. I think that is happening and that is huge in terms of where we were.”
Mr Bashir reiterated Pakistan's offer to help India with a joint probe into the Abu Jindal affair but described as incredible the Indian suggestion that the alleged Mumbai terror mastermind was helped in any way by Pakistani officials in plotting the outrage.
“As I said if our own army headquarters are attacked, if ISI offices are attacked then I think it is really unbelievable, incredible to allege that Pakistani state, institutes have been involved in this. We ought to look at the situation very objectively in our respect of national interests,” Mr Bashir said.
Pakistan was very serious about speeding up the stalled trial of the existing suspects in the Mumbai attack “and anything that has got to do with terror”. On the last count a court had intervened to set free a detained suspect. “And as you know Pakistan has a very independent judiciary, number one. Number two, I think, I ought to mention, you know, if we get to cooperate like this particular issue at least 25 plus documents have been exchanged by both sides, 12 dossiers from India, 13 from Pakistan. That's the real stuff that is how we should proceed.
Now judiciary has its own parameters and the fact is that the prosecution that is the government has done its best and will continue to persist to ensure that justice finally prevails.”
He said while the courts could be tardy investigating agencies were not always sprinting.“The point is that some of these things like the Samjhauta thing that took place in 2007 is yet under investigation. And I think we ought to look at the spirit, we ought to be fixated on the objects that we need to achieve and not get into forensics of a particular situation.”
Mr Bashir played down the importance of any specific model for the India-Pakistan dialogue to pursue.
“You mentioned India-China model, there is also the Pakistan-China model, there is also the China-Japan model, you know we have models in the present day and age. I think the world has changed, changing fast, the region is changing fast. There are lot of opportunities between Pakistan and India.”
Responding to a question that many Indians looked at the recent joint statement issued by the foreign secretaries and saw Kashmir was point number six under terror. Did it indicate that both countries are learning to handle Kashmir with less acrimony and more accommodation? “I agree with you, I think yes,” Mr Bashir replied.
On the Indian prime minister's possible visit, widely seen as likely this year, he said: “I certainly agree that a visit by the Prime Minister of India would go a long way in not only cementing, but also taking the relationship forward.”