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Pakistan not begging for dialogue with India: Abdul Basit

Pakistan High Commissioner to New Delhi Abdul Basit in an interview with The Hindu on Friday said, “Pakistan is not begging for dialogue. If India is not ready, we can always wait.”

Discussing the increasing hostility between India and Pakistan, Basit, highlighting “the need to break the impasse” between the two countries, said, “Talking to each other is inevitable. Whether it happens one year down the road or three years down the road.”

The interview took place days a few days before Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz is due to lead a Pakistani delegation at the Heart of Asia conference being held in Amritsar this Sunday.

There has been speculation as to whether Pakistan and India will hold talks on the sidelines of the conference that takes as its focus increasing cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours.

Speaking in relation to the possibility of such talks being held during the interview, Basit said Pakistan remains open to “any proposal for talks from the Indian side,” adding that during the conference, attention must remain on Afghanistan.

“Whether or not there are bilateral talks, our adviser is coming because Afghanistan is important for us, its stability and economy are important for us so we will participate constructively,” Basit said.

Indian Minister of External Affairs Vikas Swarup, however, ruled out any possibility of talks with Pakistan on the sidelines of the up-coming conference a day earlier.

“Talks cannot happen in a climate of continued terrorism. India will never accept continued terrorism as the new normal of the bilateral relationship,” Times of India quoted Swarup as saying during a weekly press briefing.

During the interview, Basit was asked whether Pakistan was worried about being cornered by Afghanistan and India at the conference on account of both countries holding Pakistan responsible for the ‘cross-border terrorism’ they face.

Basit responded by saying that Pakistan had no such concerns as terrorism is a important issue for the country as well.

“Why should we worry because terrorism is also an important issue for us.”

“There is zero tolerance for terrorism in Pakistan,” Basit added. He highlighted that in the past Pakistan has taken action against “proscribed” militant groups such as Jaish-i-Mohammed and Lashkar-i-Taiba.

In regard to the escalating situation along the Line of Control (LoC), Basit said, “the 2003 ceasefire was an important Confidence Building Measure,” which should should remain intact.

“We must preserve it and then consolidate.”

He said firing along the LoC must be brought to an end and diplomacy should remain the primary means to reach solutions on the Kashmir front.

Basit described the relationship between India and Pakistan as “one step forward, two steps back and then discuss how to break the ice again.”

He stated that incidents such as the July 8 killing of Burhan Wani bring the countries back to “square one” whenever progress on holding talks is seen.

Basit added, there has been a “feeling in Islamabad that that there is no desire for a comprehensive dialogue in Delhi,” since the killing of Burhan Wani by Indian forces on July 8.
courtesy : dawn news



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