NEW DELHI: India’s admission that it was not aware of Mumbai fugitive Dawood Ibrahim’s whereabouts is a vindication of Pakistan’s stand that the wanted underworld don was not hiding in its territory, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India Abdul Basit has said.
According to a summary of an interview provided by Headlines Today before it was shown on Wednesday night, Mr Basit also spoke at length about issues stalling the peace dialogue with India and his persistent efforts to revive it.
India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Chaudhary told parliament on Tuesday that India does not know where Dawood Ibrahim is located.
Abdul Basit says India has never requested in writing for the extradition of Dawood Ibrahim
Mr Basit was quoted as saying that Mr Chaudhary’s statement also raised critical and disturbing questions about the veracity of India’s dossiers which he described as “self-serving”.
Most importantly of all, according to the news channel, Mr Basit revealed that to the best of his knowledge India has never requested in writing the extradition of Dawood Ibrahim. This question was put to the envoy twice and on both occasions he “explicitly and forcefully said that to the best of his knowledge India has never requested in writing the extradition of Dawood Ibrahim”.
The following is a paraphrase of some of other newsworthy points made by High Commissioner Basit in this interview.
He said there had been no substantial improvement in the prospects for political dialogue between India and Pakistan since August last year when the foreign secretary level talks were called off.
“Any hopes that Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s Saarc yatra visit to Islamabad might rekindle the stalled dialogue process have turned out to be stillborn.” Pakistan was, Mr Basit said, disappointed but not frustrated. Pakistan would continue to try to resume the dialogue process but the high commissioner agreed there was no prospect of immediate success.
Speaking about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s interview last week to the Saudi Gazette where he said “India unilaterally called off our bilateral dialogue process on a frivolous pretext”, Mr Basit reportedly said that even nine months after the talks were called off, because he met Hurriyat leaders, Pakistan continues to view the excuse as frivolous.
The high commissioner “clearly suggested” that Pakistan’s understanding of India’s attitude had not changed over the last nine months. He said Mr Sharif had invested a lot of effort and taken a big step by coming to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in and felt let down by the way the relationship thereafter had failed to develop.
Mr Basit, according to the TV channel, made it clear that Pakistan does not believe that India had good, leave aside serious, reasons for calling off the talks in August.
However, Mr Basit “appeared to hint that a report in the Indian Express in February that India and Pakistan had worked out a solution to permit Pakistan to talk to Hurriyat in such a way as not to offend India could be correct”.
The paper had said the high commissioner could meet Hurriyat any time but not before official-level talks. Mr Basit said he had since August been meeting Hurriyat and the Indian government had not objected and when asked if this proved the Indian Express report was correct the high commissioner said he would let India speak for itself and then added that the press could draw its own conclusions, the TV summary said.
Speaking about extremist Muslim ideologue Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the high commissioner said it was India’s right to raise his release with the UN Sanctions Committee on the grounds it breaches UN resolution 1267 if that is what India wants to do. The high commissioner added that if the Sanctions Committee raises the issue with Pakistan his country would fully cooperate.
Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2015