The Express Tribune – Pakistan throws diplomatic ball in India’s court

News Desk

Karachi, Sindh, 29 November 2016. While heavy guns are booming on the de facto and de jure borders, Pakistan on Monday said it is ready for a bilateral dialogue with India on the fringes of next week’s Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar.

Islamabad has already conveyed to New Delhi that Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz will be attending the conference in Amritsar on December 3 and 4, which will see participation from 40 countries.

Will ‘positively consider’ if India offers talks on Heart of Asia sidelines: Basit

“The schedule of Aziz is not cast in stone and if there is an offer for talks from the host nation, then it will be accepted by Pakistan,” High Commissioner Abdul Basit told India’s Aaj Tak TV in an exclusive interview.

Calling for a resumption of the stalled dialogue process, Basit said, “We can delay talks for months or even for years. But ultimately, a solution to the problems between India and Pakistan can only come through dialogue, and therefore, both nations must sit and discuss all the issues that confront them.”

The interview came at a time when border guards of the two countries are fighting bloody skirmishes. And Basit called for an end to hostilities and for the 2003 ceasefire to be turned into a formal agreement.

“Escalation along the Line of Control is not in Pakistan’s interest. Pakistan Army is heavily deployed along the country’s western borders as part of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and it is wrong to say that the escalation is being fuelled by Pakistan.

We would like that hostilities along the LoC to come to an end and that the 2003 ceasefire understanding is turned into a formal agreement,” he added.

Sartaj Aziz likely to attend conference in India to ‘defuse the tension’

Basit also said that the uneventful transition from one army chief to another showed strengthening of democracy in the country. “Pakistan’s democracy has matured in a way that the era of military coups is over.

Equilibrium has been set. The voice of the people and democracy is becoming stronger. There’s no question of a military coup in the future.”

Basit has given enough indications to suggest that there could be a window of opportunity for the two countries to resume the bilateral dialogue process, provided the Modi government is interested in doing so. The diplomatic ball is now in India’s court.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/1247562/pakistan-throws-diplomatic-ball-indias-court/

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