New Delhi: Pakistan is committed to dialogue with India and would not allow the “process” to be “distracted” in any way, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said yesterday.
Addressing the media two days after India called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan due to the high commissioner meeting separatists from Kashmir, Basit said the meeting was a part of “long-standing practice”.
“I would like to underline that Pakistan stands by its commitment and vision articulated by our prime ministers. It is time for India and Pakistan to work on cooperation not confrontation,” Basit said.
“We would not allow this process to be distracted in any way. Pakistan is seriously committed to this process,” he said.
When asked about his meeting with Kashmiri separatists, the high commissioner said: “This has been a long-standing practice, I have nothing more to add to this. It is important to engage with all stakeholders.”
He also said the cancellation of the talks was not the end of the road. “Cancellation of foreign secretary-level talks by India should not discourage the two countries to find a peaceful solution to all issues. Pakistan is moving ahead sincerely and we shouldn’t lose hope in building ties,” he added.
“If Pakistan and India work together, if Saarc is vitalised, I can assure you that sky is the limit,” he said, adding: “I and Pakistan are confident that India will spare no effort to make this process mutually beneficial,” he added.
Meanwhile, in a clear rebuff to Pakistan, India’s external affairs ministry yesterday said that following the Simla Agreement of 1972, India and Pakistan were the only two stakeholders on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and “none else”.
Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin wrote on Twitter: “Following Simla Agreement there are only 2 ‘stakeholders’ on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir — India & Pakistan. None else.”
“An approach different to the one laid down in the Simla Agreement & Lahore Declaration does not yield results in India-Pakistan relations,” he said.
Akbaruddin said Pakistan had given assurance to India “at the highest level, that they were committed to a peaceful dialogue on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and they would not allow Pakistan or territories under its control to be used for terrorism against us”.
“We know now, particularly after the Mumbai terror attacks and the manner in which Pakistan has pursued subsequent investigations and trials, that this assurance had no meaning and that an approach that is different to the one laid down by the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration does not yield results.”
Basit said his meeting with the Hurriyat leaders was “to find a viable solution to the Kashmir issue”. “It was in the larger context of exploring peaceful means towards resolving the issue. This has been a long standing practice, I have nothing more to add to this,” Basit said.
“Kashmiris are legitimate stakeholders in finding a peaceful solution to the issue. We had been meeting Kashmiri leaders for the past 20 years. The objective of this interaction is to engage all stakeholders in order to find a viable, peaceful solution to the problem,” Basit said. Basit also stressed on the need to look at the Kashmir issue “dispassionately and in a more realistic manner”.
On Tuesday, Basit met hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and moderate leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, a day after India called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan over the issue. He also met Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Mohammad Yasin Malik.
In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said Pakistan was “not subservient to India. It is a sovereign country and a legitimate stakeholder in the Jammu and Kashmir dispute”. Aslam also asserted that “Kashmir is not part of India. It is a disputed territory”.