This is the first official word from Pakistan about the latest breakdown in the now-on-now-off peace process with India.
India and Pakistan peace process has hit a "suspended" mode. No meeting between the foreign secretaries has been scheduled at the moment, said Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit at a media briefing held at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia in New Delhi on Thursday.
Clarifying his position—when asked whether this was his opinion or whether he had been told as much by the Indian government—the high commissioner said: “This is my sense..in my opinion..India is not engaging.”
The foreign secretaries were to meet to discuss the contours of the comprehensive dialogue process on January 15 this year. This was a big breakthrough after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made an impromptu stop over at Lahore to see his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on Christmas.
The talks were postponed—a mutual decision—in the aftermath of the Pathankot terrorist attack. In his opening statement, Basit asserted that “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 a national consensus on this in Pakistan.”
Commenting on the latest flashpoint between the two countries—the arrest of the alleged spy Kul Bhushan Yadav, Basit claimed that the arrest had “irrefutably corroborates’’ what Pakistan had been saying. “We are all aware of those who seek to create unrest and destabilize the country.” On being asked when counselor access would be granted to Yadav, who has been in jail for over two weeks, he said: “We cannot tell you when…but the request is under consideration,’’ he said.
There was "no shortcut" to "lasting peace", Basit said in his statement. The need was to engage uninterruptedly, comprehensively and meaningfully. "Cherry picking" would not work, he added.
Basit called for a solution to the root of the mistrust—Jammu and Kashmir. It was "imperative" for a "fair and just resolution as per the aspirations of the people", he said. "Let’s be realistic. …Attempts to put it on the back burner will be counterproductive."
Basit also indicated that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is unlikely to be allowed to visit Pakistan in connection with investigation into the Pathankot terror strike.
"It is very difficult for me to say. But at this stage... the whole investigation is not about question of reciprocity in my view. It is more about extending cooperation or our two countries cooperating with each other to get to the bottom of the incident," he said.
A five-member Joint Investigation Team from Pakistan had visited India last month and went around the strategic IAF airbase in Pathankot which was attacked by Pakistani terrorists on the intervening night of January one and two, leaving seven securitymen dead. Four Pakistani terrorists were also killed in the gunbattle.