ISLAMABAD: Emphasising the need for revival of dialogue, Pakistan told India on Saturday that while terrorism remains a serious challenge to deal with there are other issues of equal importance that the two countries should address to bring improvement to their ties.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said that apart from terrorism other issues like Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek had also impacted the ties. These are the core issues required to be dealt with simultaneously, he added.
The candid talk from the ambassador came in response to queries from the host of India Today’s TV programme ‘India Conclave 2017’ telecast on Saturday.
Terror issue alone cannot define entire gamut of bilateral ties, says Pakistan envoy
Mr Basit maintained that the issue of terrorism could not alone define the entire gamut of ties between Pakistan and India. “By creating hype around it [terrorism], you cannot wish away other issues like Jammu and Kashmir.”
He urged the Indian government to create conducive environment by restoring the spirit of cooperation, thus paving the way for the settlement of core issues.
“What I underline is that we need an overall conducive environment. When we are not talking to each other, when we are avoiding each other and when there is no environment of cooperation, then how you can expect to move forward,” he asked.
Mr Basit said the two countries needed to decide the fundamental issues like Jammu and Kashmir first before moving to other issues like terrorism. “We need to be sitting across the table to discuss the difficult issues. We cannot expect progress in vacuum.”
About the Mumbai attack trial, he said both governments were cooperating with each other and expediting the process and expressed the hope that they would be able to make progress.
He said it was taking time as the crime was committed in India while trial was being held in Pakistan.
“Our suggestion to Indian friends would be not to jump the gun,” he said, adding that trial was under way, both countries were in touch with each other but cooperation was needed to bring the perpetrators to justice.
He underlined the need for assisting the court to dispense justice and rejected the presumption that issues like the Mumbai attack trial defined the bilateral ties.
Mr Basit questioned the Indian government over the progress in the Samjhota Express blast case.
In reply to a question about Hafiz Saeed, he said he had been put under house arrest and asked India to not jump the gun. He expressed the hope that India would share evidence relating to Hafiz Saeed.
The high commissioner said India needed to take basic decision over the bilateral ties whether to be influenced by such kind of acute approaches or to move ahead.
He asked the Indian authorities to overcome hostilities which preceded incidents like the Mumbai attack or Samjhota Express blast.
Mr Basit also advised his hosts to end the blame game as it would lead to nowhere.
About 70,000 innocent lives had been lost in war against terrorism in Pakistan, he said and quoted a senior US official as saying that Pakistan was being destabilised through Afghanistan.
The leadership of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had found sanctuaries inside Afghanistan and were being provided with funding to carry out terrorist activities in Pakistan, he added.
On the Pathankot attack, the envoy said it required restoration of spirit of cooperation on part of his hosts.
He was of the opinion that the neighbouring country should overcome its prejudices against Pakistan.
Mr Basit said that democracy in Pakistan was being strengthened as the country had come a long way on this path and noted that some people found it difficult to do away with their pathological biases against the country.
He said that nobody could condone or justify terrorism.
Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2017