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Talks with Kashmiri separatists to continue: Pakistan envoy

PTI 20 Aug 2014, 18:05:23 PM IST
New Delhi: A defiant Pakistan today made it clear that it will continue talking to Kashmiri separatists despite India's protestation, saying that the “bottomline” for Indo-Pak talks on Kashmir issue was to engage all stakeholders and dialogue was not a favour by Pakistan to India or vice versa.

At the same time, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said his country “attaches enormous importance” to its ties with India and that there was no need to be “pessimistic” about cancellation of the Foreign Secretary-level talks.

“We need to engage with all stakeholders. It is not a question of either, or as far as we are concerned. We are engaging with India to find peaceful ways,” Basit said during an interaction with foreign journalists here while reacting to India's stand that Pakistan should either choose dialogue with separatists or Indian government.

Justifying his meeting with the Kashmiri separatists, which was objected to by India, Basit said, “We strongly believe that our interaction is helpful to the process itself.  It is helpful to find peaceful solution to the problem. It is important to engage with all stakeholders. So that is the bottomline for us.”

The Pakistan top envoy said calling off the August 25 talks between foreign secretaries of the two countries by India was a “setback” but noted that it should not discourage the two neighbours from resolving the Kashmir issue.

Asserting that he has not breached any protocol by holding talks with Kashmiri separatists, Basit said, “This has been a long-standing practice. We have been meeting the Kashmiri leaders...It is important to engage with all the stakeholders to find a peaceful solution to the issue.”

India had called off the talks between Foreign Secretaries slated for August 25, telling Pakistan bluntly to choose between an Indo-Pak dialogue or hobnobbing with the separatists.

Asserting that “Dialogue is not a favour by Pakistan to India or vice versa”, Basit said Pakistan remains committed to promoting peaceful, result-oriented and meaningful dialogue process.

Noting that Kashmir was a “bilateral dispute”, he said there was no need to be “pessimistic” about cancellation of the Foreign Secretary-level talks and that both the countries should move forward.

“So the setback should not disappoint us, discourage us to finding ways and means as to how to take the process forward in line with our leadership's visions on both sides of the border. So, we will try our maximum to see as to how this process can be taken forward,” Basit said.

He said Pakistan understands that it was a “complex situation” but added it was positive and will not allow distractions to come in the way of finding solutions to the problems.

Meanwhile, reactions from journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik, who was criticized for his meeting with Jama'at-ud-Da'wah's chief Hafiz Saeed, are also coming over Pak High Commissioner's meeting with separatist leaders and India Pak talks.

Here are some main points of Vaidik's statement:

-As far as Hurriyat ministers meeting Pakistani commissioner is concerned this is an old tradition.

-Pakistan ministers who have been coming here have also been there. If the foreign ministry of India has said that don't meet then what is the problem in that.

-And even if meeting would have been there then also what would have happened?

-I think Indian government has the right to do talks or not to.

-I think that talks should have been continued.
-I would say that if government would not have taken this decision then also nothing would have happened.  PM have been meeting.

-But  if you have to take such attitude then why did you even call Pak PM?

-I have the question that why people of Hurriyat could not meet.

-Will Kashmir break if they will meet?

-Pakistan in an independent and sovereign country and so are we.

-I don't think that Nawaz Sharif would give any resignation.