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Pakistan not begging for dialogue, if India unwilling: Basit

NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit complained on Friday that India was not willing to resume dialogue process with Pakistan for resolving bilateral issues between the neighbouring countries after India dismissed possibilities of talks with Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser to PM Nawaz Sartaj Aziz who would be visiting India for the Heart of Asia conference this weekend.

“Talks cannot happen in a climate of continued terrorism. India will never accept continued terrorism as the new normal of the bilateral relationship,” Spokesperson for Indian Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup had said on Thursday.

In an interview with The Hindu, Basit clarified that “Pakistan is not begging for dialogue. If India is not ready, we can always wait.”

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The Pakistani envoy said added, “We [Pakistan] will continue to work to break the impasse, but we are very clear that dialogue is the only way our countries can move forward and they cannot live in a state of perpetual hostility. Talking to each other is inevitable. Whether it happens 1 year down the road or 3 years down the road.”

When asked if Basit expected a bilateral meeting between Pakistani and Indian counterparts on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia conference, he said, “In the India-Pakistan relationship has seen many ups and downs. We have made many diplomatic initiatives but unfortunately things always come back to square one and we have to start afresh. What the two countries need is to make gains, and then consolidate, to build on them. But our trend is one step forward, two steps back and then discuss how to break the ice again.

“Some thought the Heart of Asia conference may be the time when the two countries move towards a thaw. We have expressed our readiness to consider any proposal for talks from the Indian side, whether or not they would like to have a bilateral engagement on the margins of the conference.”

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Basit said, “We fully understand that the focus should stay on Afghanistan at the conference. And whether or not there are bilateral talks, our adviser is coming because Afghanistan is important for us, its stability and economy are important for us so we will participate constructively.”

“Indus Water Treaty is a permanent treaty. It can neither be changed nor abandoned unilaterally. We urge India to discuss their problems through dispute settlement mechanisms. And so far we have been able to resolve all our issues,” he said while commenting on Indian Prime Minister’s recent statement on the famous accord.

Responding to a question about terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-i-Muhammad (JEM), he said, “There is zero tolerance for terrorism in Pakistan. The organisations you mentioned are proscribed organisations. We have in the past taken actions against them. And if there is proof against them it should be shared with us not speculation and hearsay.”



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