Kashmiri separatists legitimate stakeholders, meeting them a long-standing practice: Pak envoy

Just days after India cancelled a Foreign Secretary-level meeting with Pakistan, Islamabad`s High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, on Wednesday stressed that his country was in favour of peace in the region.

By Deepak Nagpal | Updated: Aug 20, 2014, 14:22 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal

New Delhi: Just days after India cancelled a Foreign Secretary-level meeting with Pakistan, Abdul Basit on Wednesday stressed that his country was in favour of peace in the region.

The remarks by the Pakistani High Commissioner to India came after India cancelled the August 25 meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of the two neighbours to be held in Islamabad, after Basit ignored New Delhi`s warning and met Kashmiri separatist leaders here.

Speaking to the press here, Basit said that Pakistan wants to promote peace and security in the South Asian region.

While underlining that Pakistan had termed the cancellation of talks as a “setback”, the envoy stressed that the time has come for the two countries to move from confrontation to co-operation.

Pakistan stands by its commitment to peace and attaches enormous importance to peaceful bilateral relationship, he added.

“We are convinced that our problems with India can only be resolved by result-oriented and meaningful dialogue,” Basit said further.

In response to a question on his meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders, Basit said that Kashmiris are legitimate stakeholders in peaceful and viable resolution of the problem.
“We have been meeting them for the past several years... it has been a long-standing practice,” he said, seeking to defend his actions. “It is important to engage with all stakeholders. That is
the bottomline,” he added.

“You have your national positions, we have ours. We have to look at these issue dispassionately,” the Pakistani envoy told reporters.

Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s comment that SAARC countries needed to work together in tackling regional challenges, Basit said, “If Pakistan and India work together and if SAARC is vitalised, I can assure you that sky is the limit.”

Commenting further on the peace dialogue, Basit stressed that there is no reason why we should lose hope on building a strong bilateral relationship.

“We would not allow this process to be distracted,” he added.

“Dialogue is not a favour by Pakistan to India or vice-versa. Both countries need to work together,” the envoy stated.

The envoy, meanwhile, informed that no meeting has been finalised between PM Modi
and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York next month.