NEW DELHI: Pakistan pressed on Friday for progress in talks with India after a ‘good beginning’ made by their prime ministers, but its envoy in Delhi also underscored the importance of addressing the Kashmir issue, saying it was at the root of all their bilateral disputes.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit also told a news conference at the Press Club of India that the two countries needed to work together to promote peace and prosperity.
Talking on the disputed issues between the two countries, Mr Basit said: “All our bilateral problems more or less stem from the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. It was, therefore, necessary to resolve this issue and take irreversible steps towards peace and stability.”
“A good beginning has been made with the meeting of the two prime ministers,” he said. “It is now important to build on that and do not allow this rare opportunity to go waste.”
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision of peace for development and development for peace provides the best way forward. That encompasses bilateral, regional and international dimensions.
Mr Basit expressed confidence in Pakistan’s economy, saying that given its geo-strategic location the country was destined to become a regional economic hub. The economy is showing signs of recovery as also borne out by the up-gradation of Moody’s rating of Pakistan from “negative” to “stable”.
The envoy also announced Pakistan food and Sufi music festival to be organised in collaboration of the high commission and the Press Club of India in New Delhi later this year.
Mr Basit’s unusually candid comments on Kashmir’s centrality in India ties came on the heels of a controversial meeting between Jamaat ud Dawa’s Hafiz Saeed and a former Hindi journalist in Pakistan.
Indian politicians led by the Congress berated the Modi government for letting the meeting happen in which ways to resolve the Kashmir dispute were apparently discussed. When it suits them every Indian party highlights the status of Kashmir as an integral part of India. But everyone also wants to solve the “issue” through talks.
Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2014