Peace process is suspended:  Pak

Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit today said the peace process with India stood “suspended”, and there were no talks scheduled between the two countries as of now.    The statement is being seen as a setback for bilateral ties as the word “suspended” had so far not been used by either nation to define the delay in holding a dialogue. Interacting with the media here, Basit said, “There is no meeting scheduled as of now. I think at present the peace process is suspended.” Basit was also non-committal on the visit by an NIA team to Pakistan: “It is not about reciprocity, but cooperation between the two countries.” He went on to state that dialogue was not a favour by one country to another, and that if India was not ready for talks, Pakistan could always wait. New Delhi was quick to hit back on both the issues. Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup cited today’s response of a Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson, who said: “I will again state that negotiations are the best means to resolve the issues. I have read the statement of the Indian Foreign Secretary you are referring to and in that also, there was an indication that the talks would take place.”India, as such, has questioned Basit’s statement on “suspension of talks”.Swarup said on March 26, before the visit of the Pakistan JIT, the Indian High Commission had formally conveyed to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry that “the terms of reference had been broadly agreed upon with the proviso that these would be on the basis of reciprocity and followed in accordance with extant legal provisions”.Basit also sought to push the Jammu and Kashmir dispute back in the forefront. “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. Attempts to put it on the back burner will be counterproductive,” he said.The Pakistan envoy also raised the recent arrest of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav by Pakistan security agencies, and said that it once again “irrefutably corroborates what Pakistan has been saying all along — we all are well aware of those who seem to create unrest and destabilise the country”.On India’s request for consular access to Yadav, Basit said, “The request is under consideration, but can’t say when they would be given consular access.” He also said that Pakistan “subscribed to China’s viewpoint on  Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Masood Azhar”. India tried getting the JuD chief designated as a terrorist at the United Nations recently but the Indian move was stalled by the Chinese over a “technical hold”. China had subsequently said that Azhar was not a terrorist.