New Delhi : Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit on Monday sent out a sharp message to Indian’s soon-to-be-formed new government. The envoy, at an event hosted for members of the Press Club of India, said, “We need to decide whether to bury the hatchet or continue to be daggers drawn”.
He also said India should not shy away from dealing with “contentious” issues like Jammu and Kashmir which need to be resolved for the two countries to move on.
Basit also said the first few months of the new government will be important and will determine how the bilateral ties will go forward.
“It (J&K) is an important issue and the government of India has to fulfill its commitment given to the world. It is part of the composite dialogue. We should not shy away from contentious issues. When we will deal with each of the issues, we will be able to move forward,” he said in an interaction with members of the Press Club of India.
Basit said there was a national consensus in Pakistan that it should have normal friendly relations and Islamabad was willing to engage with the new government in New Delhi. “But there cannot be pre-condition for any talks,” he said, adding Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the new government in India have come to power with decisive mandates and they were in a position to take “decisive decisions”.
‘‘The next 4-5 months are important… how things move forward,” he said. Asked whether there is possibility of ‘third party intervention’ to resolve bilateral issues, Basit said countries like the US always encourage India and Pakistan to have dialogue but “at the end of the day, the two countries have to sit together and discuss”.
Asked to flag issues which are doable, the High Commissioner said all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, trade and cultural issue, can be discussed and all issues are doable. “We have been engaged in composite dialogue process. All these can be discussed and everything is doable. Once the process is started, we will progress. One cannot expect progress in each area but there are many areas where we can move forward. There are areas where we can move fast while there are areas where longer time will be taken to resolve issues.’’
Asked about Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s comment that terror and talks cannot go together, Basit said it was correct to say that both cannot go together and peace has to be there for improving bilateral relations. He said the issue of lower percentage of polling in just concluded Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir has to be taken note of.
On the slow progress of trial in the Mumbai terror attacks case in Pakistan, Basit said Islamabad is pursuing the case after receiving documents from India. He said in Pakistan people were also asking what had happened to the Samjhauta Express blast case and what had happened to the accused. “We have not heard anything (on Samjhauta case). We have not seen any progress. In the 26/11, case we will do it out of our own interest. If it is proved, justice will be done,” he said.
Asked why Pakistan is not taking action against India’s most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, the High Commissioner said New Delhi has not provided any specific dossier on him and if anyone has any information about his location in Pakistan, they should share it with Pakistan for action. “We do not have any information about him. We will take action when we get that,” he said.
Questioned about recent exchange of firing along the LoC, Basit said, “I am confident that we will see calm along LoC. Small incidents sometime turn out to be big. It is the desire of both sides to respect ceasefire.”
At the same time, Basit said: ‘‘We are ready to host Narendra Modi when he decides to visit Pakistan. Our Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already extended an invitation to him.”