‘Ready for bilateralism on Kashmir’
Srinagar: Pakistan envoy in New Delhi has said that Islamabad was ready for any bilateral movement on Kashmir “provided it is result oriented”.
In an interview to The Statesman, Abdul Basit, High Commissioner of Pakistan to India, said that Jammu and Kashmir is the “root cause” of all problems confronting India and Pakistan.
“I think unless we solve this problem as per the aspirations of the people there it will continue to be difficult to have viable peace in the region. It is important not to shy away from settling this issue, because that is the cause of our mutual distrust,” he told the New Delhi based newspaper.
Basit added, “We have fought wars because of this dispute. India also agrees that the Kashmir dispute needs to be settled, whether you take UN resolutions or the Shimla Agreement or Lahore declaration or Islamabad joint statement. So we should sit and solve it amicably. Once that is done, there is hardly anything between our two countries that cannot be settled easily and quickly.”
Basit stressed that Pakistan has always said that Kashmir is an ‘indigenous movement’.
“People of Jammu and Kashmir have been struggling for their right to self-determination which is very much enshrined in the UN charter as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a legitimate struggle,” he said adding that Pakistan “can’t” vitiate the atmosphere by supporting it.
“There are many voices inside India also who are emphasising on the need to solve this problem politically.”
Kashmir, Basit said, is an international issue. “There are UN Security Council resolutions on this issue.”
“If the Indian position is that Pakistan and India should talk to each other and it can be resolved only bilaterally because of the Shimla Agreement, Pakistan is ready to resolve it bilaterally but 47 years have already elapsed since the Shimla Agreement.”
“I do not know how many more years you would need to discuss this issue bilaterally. I think the time has really come now for India to do some introspection. Pakistan is not averse to bilateralism, provided it leads to results,” he explained.
On a question that India always stresses that “cross-border infiltration and terrorism” must stop before any dialogue, Basit said that Pakistan does not believe in setting pre-conditions for talks.
“If we can address all these issues then there is hardly anything left for talks between the two countries. Our approach is more practical because we also have concerns about terrorism,” he asserted, “the conviction of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav clearly shows that Pakistan too is suffering at the hands of terrorism which has internal and external dimensions.”
He further added, “My own take is that sooner or later India and Pakistan will have to come to the negotiating table. I am convinced that we are not destined to live in hostility forever.”
Basit, however, ruled out any consular access to Jadhav. “We need to understand Commander Jadhav is not an ordinary citizen. He was convicted for sabotage, subversion and terrorism.”
When asked about the unofficial and unannounced visit of Indian business giant Sajjan Jindal to Islamabad, Basit maintained that it was a “personal visit”.
“He went there to meet the Prime Minister (Mian Nawaz Sharif). They have known each other for many years, so there wasn’t anything official about it.”
Basit also rubbished report that Pakistan army mutilates bodies of Indian army. “These are just allegations. We do not get into these things. As far as Pakistan is concerned there was no beheading at all.”
On why Pakistan opposes India’s involvement in Afghanistan, he said, “Afghanistan is our immediate neighbour and whatever happens there ineluctably and inevitably affects Pakistan. So stability and peace in Afghanistan is essential for our own security and stability.”
Justifying the Pakistan stance on Afghanistan, he said, “Afghanistan is a sovereign country and has the liberty to have relations with any country. We have no issues as long as those relations do not directly affect or harm us. Unfortunately, we have seen how in the past Pakistan has been destabilised through Afghanistan,” Basit asserted.
“We are in touch with Afghanistan and we hope that given our brotherly relations its territory is not used to destabilise Pakistan, particularly Balochistan and the Fata (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) region,” Basit said.