Dialogue the Only Way To Move Forward, Says Pakistan Envoy

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Abdul Basit, Pakistan High Commissioner to India

INTERVIEW | ABDUL BASIT, PAKISTAN HIGH COMMISSIONER

The present impasse between India and Pakistan will be over sooner or later as without dialogue we cannot move forward. One day Pakistan and India will have to come to the negotiation table for resolving their outstanding problems, says Abdul Basit, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India in an exclusive interview with Caravan Daily

Abdul Bari Masoud |Special Correspondent

As tension has been mounting between the nuclear-armed neighbours and ceasefire violation has become an everyday affair, Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit expressed hope that the stalled dialogue process would start one day.

He, however, reiterated that Jammu and Kashmir remains the “basic and core dispute” between India and Pakistan and without solving it “a durable peace cannot be achieved”.

In an exclusive interview with Caravan Daily, the soft-spoken Pakistan envoy said one day the ice between Pakistan and India will melt as a framework for a comprehensive dialogue process already exists.

You talk about dialogue. How do you think can the deadlock be broken?

The present impasse between the two neighbors will be over sooner or later as without dialogue we cannot move forward. One day Pakistan and India will have to come on the negotiation table for resolving their outstanding problems as stalemate cannot remain there always. It is pleasing to note that we have a framework for a comprehensive bilateral dialogue. When Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Pakistan in December 2015, both the countries agreed and signed the framework.

What do you think talks should focus on?

Islamabad does not believe in wasting time in talks for the sake of talks. Pakistan wants talks on substantive issues, specifically on Jammu and Kashmir. We consider Jammu and Kashmir to be the core dispute between Pakistan and India and it should be resolved considering the aspirations of Kashmiri people. Without solving the Kashmir dispute, durable peace between both the countries as well as in South Asia cannot be established.

So who do you think has to take the initiative?

We have wasted 70 years of our existence in wars and bitterness but time has now come that we search for peace. Whether we would like to continue with the status quo or we want to make a new beginning in our ties, we need to decide now.

How do you see the situation in Kashmir?

The situation in Kashmir is alarming which reinforces the argument that there should be a dialogue and by using force one cannot solve any problem.

New Delhi believes Islamabad is not addressing its concerns particularly cross border terrorism issue to resume dialogue?

There should be no condition for dialogue as it renders it meaningless. Our position is very clear that there is no talk with pre-conditions. Talks should be held with an open mind and should be done in a sincere and cordial atmosphere.

Earlier, we have had several rounds of talks during 2004 to 2008 and these talks brought some good results.So, it is not fair to put condition for talks.

India blames Pakistan for violating ceasefire along the Line of Control almost every day. What is the solution of the ceasefire violation?

There is a feeling in Pakistan that India has no desire for a comprehensive dialogue which it had agreed in December 2015. As far as the issue of LoC firing is concerned, the blame game has been going on and this can only be resolved through negotiations.

Are there any domestic compulsions coming in way of improving bilateral relations?

Foreign policy is basically the extension of domestic policies and you cannot separate them.  However, I must say, a good thing that has happened in Pakistan is we have a national consensus to improve ties with India. I can say that Pakistani nation has come of age or has matured enough, as everybody wants good relations with India.

So, how soon do we see that dialogue process happening?

We do not want to live in perpetual hostility with India. We are positive and constructive, and want the same from the other side as well. It is a flawed assumption that India would do a favor by resuming a dialogue process. Pakistan is not begging for a dialogue. If India is not ready, we can always wait.

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