New Delhi: Pakistan high commissioner to India Abdul Basit said, for the first time, on Thursday that peace process with India has been suspended, while all but ruling out a return visit by Indian investigators days after its officials toured the Pathankot air base to inquire into the January attack, developments that signal a slide into another bout of diplomatic freeze.
Bashit also reiterated that Kashmir was the root cause of the mistrust between the two countries.
“There is no meeting scheduled as of now. I think at present the peace process is suspended,” Basit told reporters at a function in New Delhi.
Basit began his speech by drawing attention to the centrality of Kashmir.
“There shouldn’t be any doubt that Pakistan wants to have a normal and peaceful relationship with India on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual interest. There is national consensus on this in Pakistan.
However, there is no shortcut to achieving a lasting peace. Nor does cherry-picking work. What we need is to engage uninterruptedly, comprehensively, and meaningfully,” he said.
“Let’s be realistic. It is the Jammu & Kashmir dispute that is the root cause of mutual distrust and other bilateral issues. Therefore, its fair and just resolution, as per the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, is imperative. Attempts to put it on the back burner will be counterproductive. It is high time to break the carapace of complacency and dispense with self-serving approaches,” he added.
Basit also spoke about a purported RAW officer arrested in Balochistan province. India has said the detained man has no link with the government.
“The recent arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav in Pakistan irrefutably corroborates what Pakistan has been saying all along,” he said.
“We all are aware of those who seek to create unrest in Pakistan and destabilise the country… They are bound to fail as the people of Pakistan are united to effectively counter anti-Pakistan subversive activities,” Basit said in an interaction with members of the Foreign Correspondents Club, South Asia.
He also spoke about the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. “It is the J&K dispute that is the root cause of mutual distrust (between India and Pakistan) and other bilateral issues,” he said.
Pakistan said on Wednesday that its Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which was in India to probe the Pathankot terror attack, had visited the “crime scene” but witnesses from the Indian security forces were not produced before the probe team.
On Thursday, Basit said: “Personally, I feel that this whole (Pathankot) investigation is not about reciprocity, but about extending co-op to get to the bottom of this.”
The attack had led to stalling of the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan, which had been kick-started by a visit to Pakistan late last year by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and a December 25 stop-over visit to Lahore by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which he held talks over tea with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
India has repeatedly said that a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan was allowed to come and visit the Pathankot air base on the understanding that the National Investigation Agency would also be allowed to go to Pakistan.
“The terms of reference of the JIT were agreed upon by both sides,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.