The outgoing High Commissioner for Pakistan in India Abdul Basit on Monday regretted the two neighbours could not start the comprehensive bilateral dialogue as agreed in December 2015 and urged India to return to the negotiating table without further ado and any preconditions.
The envoy, in an Op-Ed page article published in the Times of India, reiterated that Pakistan and India cannot live in ‘perpetual hostility’.
Basit said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s decision to attend Narendra Modi’s inauguration showed Pakistan’s intent to initiate a new beginning with New Delhi.
The outgoing envoy also wrote that he was baffled by New Delhi’s decision to call off its foreign secretary’s scheduled visit to Islamabad in 2014 as a response to his (Basit’s) interaction with the Hurriyat leaders.
Basit added that it was necessary to find an ‘amicable solution’ to the Kashmir dispute. He said that a solution to the dispute which does not resonate among the Kashmiris would ‘ineluctably fall flat’. He said, “Simply put, we cannot put the Jammu and Kashmir dispute on the back burner.”
The high commissioner also said, “We must settle this once and for all, as well as Siachen and Sir Creek, to build a permanent peace between the two countries.”
Basit also wrote that he was aware that many in India were sceptical that the Kashmir dispute was not the root cause of the problems in the relationship with Pakistan. He said that Indians view that terrorism is the major issue between Islamabad and New Delhi.
The envoy responding to those sceptics said, “To them my submission is that the wars our two countries have fought during the last 70 years all predated the Samjhauta Express blast, the Mumbai attacks and Pathankot.”
However, Basit also said, “This is not to say the menace of terrorism can be ignored and left unaddressed.” He cited Pakistan’s success in the fight against terrorism by highlighting the operations Zarb-i-Azb and Radd ul Fasaad.