Will Bring Hurriyat To Negotiation Table, Says Abdul Basit

13 December 2015
India Today
Bijaya Kumar Das

New Delhi: As India and Pakistan prepare to resume the composite dialogue process, Islamabad on Saturday insisted that there was no change in its stand on engaging separatist leaders on the Kashmir issue. Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit, while speaking at Agenda Aaj Tak in New Delhi said, the Hurriyat represents a large section of Kashmiri people. The Narendra Modi government in August had called off foreign secretary and national security advisor-level talks while expressing strong objections to the Pakistan high commissioner hosting Kashmiri separatists on the eve of talks. India and Pakistan came out with a joint statement earlier this week during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit to Islamabad and decided to resume the stalled dialogue process while agreeing to cooperate with each other on various issues like terror, narcotics, culture and Kashmir. On being asked if talks will continue if there was a terror attack in India, Basit said it's in the interest for both the countries for the dialogue to sustain. When asked if handing over underworld Dawood Ibrahim, who is believed to be in Pakistan and 26-11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi would be a game changer in the dialogue process, the Pakistan high commissioner said solving the Kashmir problem will be the biggest breakthrough in the peace process. 'The root cause of distrust between the two countries is Kashmir and not anything else. Trust will automatically be built up if the issue is solved,' Basit said while adding that the two countries must now ensure that there are no hurdles in the dialogue. 'Unfortunately we lost an opportunity in the last two years. Now we have entered a new phase. Forces in Pakistan and in India don't want our relations to improve but we cannot be a hostage to them,' the Pakistani diplomat said. Talking about expediting the Mumbai attack trial in Pakistan, he said that there is a judicial process which is taking place. When questioned over the delay in the trial, in an apparent reference to the Samjhauta Express attack in which many Pakistani nationals were killed, he said there are cases in India too that have go on for years. Speaking on terrorism, Basit said Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism. 'After the tension in Afghanistan, there have been many attacks in our country (Pakistan) too. We understand the pain. We should not be linked to terror attacks,' he said. On the question whether India and Pakistan will resume cricketing ties within the next 15 days, Basit said Pakistan was always ready to play with India. 'It is now up to the Indian government to decide. We will be very happy if cricketing ties resume and this will lead to better relations between the two countries,' he added.