New Delhi, Dec 8 Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit on Thursday said his country did not want “perpetual hostility” with India, but stressed that Kashmir is the “core issue” between the two countries.
He was speaking at a discussion on India-Pakistan relations organised by think tank Centre for Peace and Progress here.
However, former Union Minister and Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar pointed out that for India, the core issue remains terrorism from Pakistani soil.
Basit stressed on the need for uninterrupted dialogue.
“The two countries need an uninterrupted dialogue process. We need to move from conflict management to conflict resolution that cannot happen until we talk to each other with the seriousness and sincerity of purpose.
“Pakistan does not wish to live in perpetual hostility with India. We remain positive and constructive but it takes two to tango. There are serious problems between our two countries but if we engage in purposeful diplomacy I think we can realise results to our mutual satisfaction and make a good beginning,” he said.
“I think we have wasted 70 years of our existence. I think time has come to make up our mind to what we want. Whether we would like to continue with status quo or we would like to make new beginning in our relationship,” he added.
Basit however said that New Delhi did not show much desire to engage in dialogue at present, but his country was “patient” and would wait to “see how things unfold in the months ahead”
“But as far as Pakistan is concerned, we remain positive and constructive in our attitude and whenever there is any desire on the part of New Delhi to engage with us Pakistan would respond positively and constructively provided our engagement is meaningful and does lead to resolving the core issue that is Kashmir,” he said.
He said the developments since July 8 in Jammu and Kashmir – referring to the protests after killing of militant Burhan Wani that brought life in the Kashmir Valley to a near standstill – “again very clearly show that Jammu and Kashmir is the dispute between our two countries”.
“In Islamabad the view is unless we move towards finding a just and fair solution to this problem, it will continue to be very very difficult for our two countries to bridge the trust deficit,” he said.
Aiyar meanwhile pointed out that terrorism is the core issue for India when it comes to a dialogue with Pakistan, but also stressed on the need for dialogue.
“The only way of stopping terror is to talk,” he said.
Bilateral relations took a nosedive following the Pathankot attack in January 2016 and the attack at an Army camp in Uri on September 18, which left 19 soldiers dead, with India launching a surgical strike at terror launch pads across the border in the intervening night of September 28-29. Since then, other attacks, infiltration bids and ceasefire violations have increased tensions further.
Basit also said that the SAARC summit that was to be held in Pakistan was cancelled because of differences between India and Pakistan.
“We saw what happened to SAARC summit, it could not take place primarily because of differences between our two countries. Peace is not only in our mutual and bilateral interest but also in interest of the region. If we want to exploit the opportunities unleashed by globalisation and move towards regional integration, connectivity, cooperation I think it is essential our two countries must overcome our problems, our differences,” he said, adding diplomacy “must be given a fair chance to deliver”.
The 19th Saarc Summit which was to be held in Islamabad in November this year was cancelled after several member nations pulled out after India decided not to participate.