Don't want ties to be held hostage to Kashmir issue: Pak envoy

Don't want ties to be held hostage to Kashmir issue: Pak envoy

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit Sunday said his country doesn't like the relationship with India to be held hostage to the Jammu and Kashmir issue but both countries should make sincere efforts to resolve the problem.

Expressing the hope that the bilateral talks will resume, he said at the end of the day the two countries will have to talk to each other.

"Both our countries do recognise that Jammu and Kashmir is a problem which needs to be resolved. As part of dialogue process in the past we have been trying to resolve it.

"One would hope the problem is resolved to our mutual satisfaction and resolved in just and fair manner," he said during an interaction with the media at the Hyderabad Press Club.

"There are other issues our countries have been talking about. There are 10 segments within the framework of composite dialogue and Jammu and Kashmir is one of them.

"We would not like our relationship to be held hostage to one single issue but we would like to talk. Sincere efforts should be made to resolve the issue and both countries need to do it," he said.

"Let us hope because at the end of the day we will have to talk to each other. It may not happen this year. It may not happen next year but at the end of day, our two countries will be talking to each other," he added.

"About 20 years ago, Pakistan used to have pre-conditions for talks. First resolve Jammu and Kashmir dispute then we will talk... but that did not work. We have to talk to each other with an open mind," the high commissioner said when asked about the Modi government's stand that Pakistan should decide whether it wants to hold talks with India or Kashmiri separatists.

India called off talks between foreign secretaries in August after the Pakistani high commissioner held meetings with Kashmiri separatist leaders.

Concurring with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's statement that there are no full stops in diplomacy, he hoped that process of dialogue will resume.

"Jammu and Kashmir is a part of composite dialogue. Whenever the dialogue process is resumed, we will be able to build on the past achievements and move forward.

"It is in our mutual interest. It is not that my country is doing favour to India or India doing favour to Pakistan. Peace is in mutual interest. It is also in regional interest," he said.

When asked about ceasefire violations by Pakistan, Basit said: "Obviously our position is different." He stressed the need for both the countries to adhere to all agreements and declarations made in the past.

He also underlined the need for focusing on positivity.  "There is too much negativity in our bilateral narrative. Unless we think positive, things will not move forward. If we start thinking positive about each other we can also create opportunities and find solutions to our problems," he added.

He urged the Indian media not to look at Pakistan through past prism which is no more valid. He claimed that Pakistan has progressed in many ways with a vibrant civil society, free media, active NGOs and advocacy groups.

Evading reply to a query as to why Pakistan continues to harbour Dawood Ibrahim and Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistani envoy claimed that Pakistan is suffering from terrorism since Soviet occupation of Afghanistan back in 1979.

He said Pakistan lost 55,000 innocent civilians in suicide bombings since 2004. He also referred to a report by the World Bank that Pakistan incurred losses of $1 billion in last 12 to 13 years.

Stating that the present governments of both the countries have the agenda of economic development, he said there was no reason why the two neighbours work together to overcome the challenges.

The Pakistani envoy said it was unfortunate that when globalisation is taking place and regions are coming together, south Asia is lagging far behind in terms of economic cooperation.

The intra regional trade in south Asia is just 4 to 5 percent, against 55 percent in European Union and 25 to 30 percent in ASEAN.

Terming the current bilateral trade of $2.3 billion as miniscule when compared to the potential, he felt that this can be immediately enhance d to $5 to 10 billion.

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