If J&K people want to be with India, so be it: Envoy Abdul Basit

If J&K people want to be with India, so be it: Envoy Abdul Basit

Pakistan has nothing to do with the Uri attack, says Abdul Basit



Amidst the tensions prevailing between India and Pakistan after the Uri attacks which claimed the lives of 18 Indian Army personnel, Pakistan made it clear that they are not thinking in war terms.
In an interview to Indian newspaper The Telegraph, Abdul Basit, Pakistan's envoy to India, said:

"We are in a tough place, but we are not thinking in war terms. War is not a solution, war creates more problems. We should not allow war hysteria to dominate our discourse. We have to be mature. We can perhaps afford not to talk to each other for some time, but addressing our many challenges can only happen through dialogue and peaceful means. I hope we are able to retrieve the ground diplomatically. I am a diplomat and an optimist. I hope diplomacy wins."
He also said the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be given a fair chance to determine their future.
Major attacks in Jammu and Kashmir since 1999
"We have no desire to be irredentist (or, advocating claims over territory) in our approach. What we are saying is that the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be given a fair chance to determine their future. If they believe they are happier with India and they belong there, so be it, Pakistan would not have a problem. But to determine their future is their right.... Kashmir is not about territory, it is not a territorial dispute, 12 million people are involved."
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He also said Pakistan would not take blame for last Sunday's attack on the Uri army camp.
He instead blamed the plunge in bilateral ties on Kashmiri unrest triggered by the killing of Hizb-ul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani.
"We were on the right track even after Pathankot, but then July 8 happened (the day Wani was killed by security forces) and you know what has happened in Kashmir since. We lost momentum," Basit said.
Regarding India's description of Pakistan as the "Ivy League of terrorism", he said:
"We can also come up with such catchy phrases but that doesn't serve any purpose, inter-state relations are not about verbosity," he said.
Asked pointedly to respond to India's charge that Pakistan had effected the Uri camp carnage, Basit bluntly said:
"One thing is for sure, and I want to tell your readers this: Pakistan has nothing to do with the Uri attack."
To a follow-up prod that the attackers had infiltrated Uri from the Pakistani side, he told the newspaper:
"We do not know, we do not know. We are committed to not allowing our territory to be used for violence anywhere in the world. This is what I iterated to your foreign secretary when I was called in the other day."
To a related question on why Pakistan allowed voices such as JuD chief Hafiz Sayeed and Hizb-ul chief Sayeed Salahuddin to spew belligerence on India from its soil, Basit said:
"I do see your point. But such voices you'll find in India too. Our policy is not driven by their fiery speeches and neither is yours, I would like to believe."
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Of unconfirmed but persistent reports on social media that Indian forces had "avenged Uri" in a covert cross-border operation on militant camps, Basit feigned no knowledge. "I am not aware of any such thing," he said. "I do not believe any such thing happened. Let me say here that Pakistan is capable of defending itself, but I wouldn't like to think things will escalate to that pass."
He added: "It is important for India to understand that Kashmir is the factor that keeps bedevilling our relationship and bringing mistrust between us".
"It is not about Burhan Wani, it is about Kashmir," Basit repeatedly emphasised. "To fix everything now on Burhan Wani is of no help. The way Kashmiris came out for his funeral and what has been happening thereafter is serious and spontaneous. What is happening in Kashmir tells us how important it is for us to deal with this problem. You cannot brush Kashmir under the carpet, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have to be given the right to determine their future at some point. We cannot ignore what is happening."
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"Even your political parties say Kashmir is a political problem and needs to be politically resolved. India and Pakistan are both agreed that Jammu and Kashmir is a dispute that we need to resolve, you have your discourse and we have our narrative, not talking Kashmir will take us nowhere, Kashmiris have to be allowed to decide what they want for themselves," Basit said.
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Was he advocating a plebiscite? Was he arguing that Kashmiris should become the third party in a bilateral dialogue? "We have never called Kashmiris the third party, we believe they are major stakeholders in deciding their future destiny and they have the right to determine what that is to be."
On Balochistan, he said. "Balochistan is not represented by a few misguided elements," he said. "We may have some socio-economic issues there, like in other parts of Pakistan, but the people of Balochistan are as patriotic and as committed to Pakistan as I or any other Pakistani."

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