NEW DELHI: Talks with India are important but Islamabad does not want to engage with any dialogue process ‘just for the heck of it,’ said Pakistan’s high commissioner to India Abdul Basit.
Basit in an interview with the Times of India (TOI) said it was high time for both the neighbouring countries to move from symbolism to substance.
“The two countries agreed in December 2015, when Sushma Swaraj ‘sahiba’ travelled to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference, on the framework. That is a balanced and comprehensive framework from mutual perspective. Now the question is how to start the process. Whenever that dialogue process begins, it has to be on the basis of the agreement we were able to have in December last year.”
“We need to discuss the dispute,” Basit stressed while talking about Kashmir and added, ”We need to be serious and sincere. We don’t want to engage just for the heck of it. We have wasted 70 years and we need concrete results now. As we say in Persian, nashistan guftan barkhastan (just sit, talk and go). We now have to dispense with that approach and engage with sincerity.”
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was firmly in charge of the government of Pakistan; however, Pakistan’s Army Chief General Raheel Sharif had an important role to play in Islamabad’s policies concerning India, Afghanistan and other security matters.
Responding to a question regarding India’s claimed surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC), he said, “If you want to describe this cross-LoC firing as a surgical strike, we cannot stop you. But the fact of the matter is no surgical strike took place. And I can assure you that had there been any surgical strike, Pakistan would have responded immediately and proportionately. And we do not need time for preparation.”
When asked, what was preventing Pakistan from probing the Uri attack, Basit said, “We have already suggested an international probe to ensure we have conclusive and irrefutable findings. Our offer is still there…because we need to get out of this blame game. And for that, we strongly feel an international probe would be a much better option.”
Asked why PM Nawaz Sharif called Burhan Wani a ‘martyr’, the Pakistani envoy said,” Are you suggesting that the hundreds of thousands who came out for his funeral were supporting a terrorist? Over 100 people have been killed, more than 14,000 injured since July 9. Were they also terrorists?”
In reply to a question, if Pakistan was worried about being diplomatically isolated in the region, he said, “I know it is India’s stated policy to isolate Pakistan but I can assure you it is not going to happen. Pakistan is contributing to international peace. It remains one of the largest contributors to the UN peace-keeping missions. We know our place in the world.”
The Pakistan’s high commissioner said the region was going a tough phase, however, “If New Delhi is not willing to engage positively, then we get stuck.”