NEW DELHI: Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit has said that talks between India and Pakistan are a “necessity and a “prerequisite” to improve relations between the two countries.
Speaking at an event organised by the South Asia Forum for Art and Creative Heritage, the outgoing Pakistan envoy to India said bilateral discussions should not have been discontinued after the Pathankot attack in 2016.
“Both the countries need to decide that they need to be engaged, as was decided at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt [in 2009], where we decided to separate talks from [action against] terrorism,” Basit said. “We should not be hostage to forces that do not want progress,” Press Trust of India cited him as saying
He stressed on the importance of resolving the Kashmir conflict to make real progress.
“Pathankot or no Pathankot, we need to decide that we will not disrupt the dialogue process,” he said while referring to the 2016 attack. “While we were cooperating on the Pathankot case, we could have carried on the dialogue process. That would have helped.”
The Pakistani envoy also pitched for the right to self-determination for Kashmiris.
The Jan. 2 attack on the Pathankot air base, in which seven Indian security personnel were killed, has stalled hopes of revived peace talks between the nations after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to his counterpart Nawaz Sharif in December.
Counter-terrorism police in Punjab filed a case against the alleged air base attackers in February this year and “their alleged abettors” belonging to a banned militant group, a spokesman said in a statement.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since becoming separate countries in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.