ISLAMABAD, Oct 9 (APP): Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has said Pakistan is an important member of the international community and India’s stated policy to isolate Pakistan had not succeeded.
In an interview appeared in the Times of India on Saturday, he said Pakistan was contributing to international peace and it remained one of the largest contributors to the UN peace keeping missions. “We know our place in the world.”
He said Pakistan was a country of 200 million people and blessed with such a remarkable geo strategic location that no country on earth could isolate it.
“In fact, 5 or 10 years down the road, Pakistan is destined to emerge as a regional economic hub because we are the natural bridge between West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. You cannot take that position from us. Rather than wasting time in isolating Pakistan, it is important to look at ways to integrate and connect with each other,” he added.
To a question he said South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit was postponed which was a collective loss.
He said Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was the elected head of the government and looking after all affairs of the country.
About Indian claims of surgical strikes, Basit said “If you want to describe this cross-LoC firing as a surgical strike, we cannot stop you. But the fact of the matter is no surgical strike took place. And I can assure you that had there been any surgical strike, Pakistan would have responded immediately and proportionately. And we do not need time for preparation.”
To another question about Uri attack, he said Pakistan had already suggested an international probe to ensure conclusive and irrefutable findings. “Our offer is still there…because we need to get out of this blame game. And for that, we strongly feel an international probe would be a much better option,” he added.
About dialogue process between two countries, he said that they did not have any impasse as far as the framework for dialogue was concerned.
He said the important thing was to get back to the negotiating table with the framework already decided.
To Indian Occupied Kashmir issue, Basit questioned whether hundreds of thousands who came out for Wani’s funeral were supporting a terrorist?
“Over 100 people have been killed, more than 14,000 injured since July 9. Were they also terrorists? If you look at the Kashmiri struggle through the prism of terrorism, you would arrive at the wrong conclusion. Do you want to declare all people of J&K terrorists? This is an indigenous movement as has been proved time and again,” he added.
The High Commissioner said that India could give any name to the struggle of the Kashmiris, which was enshrined in the UN Charter, but the facts on the ground won’t change.
“We want to have a good relationship with India but the mistrust we share can’t be plugged until there is a just and fair resolution of the Kashmir dispute,” he added.
To a query about Balochistan province Basit replied that the people of Balochistan were as committed Pakistanis as he was.
“But we have worries beyond that. We know how foreign hands have been destabilising Balochistan, FATA and other parts of the country. The arrest of Kulbhushan Jadav vindicates Pakistan,” he added.
About nuclear deterrence, Basit said Pakistan was working to retain the credibility of its deterrence.
“We would do everything to retain the credibility of our deterrence but that would be done at the minimum possible level. Pakistan is not into an interminable arms race with India. Nuclear deterrence, or deterrence as a whole, is an indispensable part of our calculus but that is meant to promote peace, not to wage war,” he added.