Pak-India peace talks suspended

NEW DELHI: Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said the dialogue with India is suspended, while hinting that the National Investigative Agency (NIA) will not be allowed to visit Islamabad for the probe into the Pathankot attack.
“I would say the dialogue is suspended,” Basit said during an interaction at the Foreign Correspondents Club while responding to a question on the status of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue announced by both countries last December, reported Indian media.
“There is no meeting scheduled between the foreign secretaries…Let’s see if we are able to commence the dialogue process,” he said.
The Pakistani high commissioiner created a stir by saying a Pakistani Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) visit to India to probe the Pathankot attack was not based on reciprocity, shortly after the Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson had said exactly the opposite.
“The visit of the Pakistan JIT was not based on reciprocity, but on a spirit of cooperation,” the envoy said when he was asked whether an NIA team will be allowed to visit Pakistan to probe Pathankot attack.
Asked specifically if this meant Pakistan would not allow the NIA to visit, he said: “You can draw your own conclusions.”
Basit spoke on several other issues, including the arrest of the alleged RAW operative and the Kashmir issue.
“The recent arrest of Kulbhushan (Jadhav) in Pakistan irrefutably corroborates what Pakistan has been saying all along. 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,” he said.
India and Pakistan, he said, should be “realistic” about the Kashmir issue and attempts to put it on the backburner will be counterproductive. “It is the Jammu and 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 and Kashmir, is imperative,” he said.
Basit said there could not be any “short cut to achieving a lasting peace”. He added, “Nor does cherry-picking work. What we need is to engage uninterruptedly, comprehensively, and meaningfully.”
Basit said his country would like to have a comprehensive dialogue with New Delhi to resolve their outstanding issues but is willing to wait if India isn’t ready. “As far as I know, there is no meeting scheduled between the two foreign secretaries yet…let’s see if we are able to commence the dialogue process.”
He also supported Chinese viewpoint to block India’s plea to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar. “I subscribe to Chinese viewpoint,” said Basit.
Indian MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup earlier said the Pakistani JIT’s visit was on a reciprocal basis. “The work of the JIT in India was as per the terms of reference which were agreed between the two governments through their respective foreign offices. They are on reciprocal basis and in accordance with the existing legal provisions,” Swarup said.
Mr Basit’s statement came as India rejected Pakistan’s assertion that its Joint Investigation Team on Pathankot attack was not allowed to meet witnesses from the security forces. New Delhi on Thursday said the work of the Pakistan probe team was as per the Terms of Reference, agreed by their respective governments.
Swarup also emphasised that it was for the first time the Government of India has received cooperation from Pakistan in form of a JIT visit in investigating a terror attack in India.
Asked about Pakistan Foreign Office statement on Wednesday that its JIT was not allowed to meet witnesses from the security forces, he said “The work of JIT in India was as per the ToRs which were agreed between the two governments through their respective foreign offices. They are on reciprocal basis and in accordance with the existing legal provisions.”
India also snubbed Basit’s statement that talks between the two neighbours were suspended, saying Pakistan’s own Foreign Office in Islamabad has stated that the two countries are in touch and talks will happen. Agencies