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Pakistan-India Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue suspended

India-Pakistan Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue suspended, says Islamabad’s envoy Abdul Basit

The Hindu

Kallol Bhattacherjee

  • Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. File photo
    The Hindu,  Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. File photo

“I think at present the peace process between India and Pakistan is suspended,” Mr. Basit said.

The India-Pakistan Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, which was revived in December 2015, has been suspended, Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said on Thursday.

“There is no meeting scheduled as of now. I think at present the peace process is suspended,” Mr. Basit told reporters at a function in New Delhi.

Seven years after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, India and Pakistan had agreed to resume structured dialogue between them.

Announcing the breakthrough development on December 9, 2015 in Islamabad at a joint press conference with Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, , External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said, “We have decided to restart the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue. The dialogue that was earlier known as Composite Dialogue and later on known as Resumed Dialogue will now be known as the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.”

India disapproves of Pak view on JIT

Mr. Basit’s statement came as India disapproved Pakistan’s assertion that its Joint Investigation Team on Pathankot attack was not allowed to meet witnesses from the security forces. New Delhi on Thursday said the work of the Pakistan probe team was as per the Terms of Reference, agreed by their respective governments.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the JIT visit was on reciprocal basis and in accordance with the existing legal provisions.

He also emphasised that it was for the first time the Government of India has received cooperation from Pakistan in form of a JIT visit in investigating a terror attack in India.

Asked about Pakistan Foreign Office statement on Wednesday that its JIT was not allowed to meet witnesses from the security forces, he said,”The work of JIT in India was as per the ToR which were agreed between the two governments through their respective foreign offices. They are on reciprocal basis and in accordance with the existing legal provisions.”

He also dismissed a Pakistan media report which quoted an unnamed JIT member as having said that Pathankot terror strike was “stage-managed” by India, saying the government does not respond to any speculative media reports and it will go by what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan officially communicates to it.

Earlier in the day, a Home Ministery said, “It was agreed much in advance of Pakistan’s JIT’s visit that they would not get access to any defence personnel involved in Pathankot operation.”

According to the ToR, the JIT was to interview key witnesses and victims of Pathankot terror attack but there was no mention of access to military or any other security personnel.

Govt. must refrain from ‘unconsulted’ moves: Congress

Meanwhile, the Congress has come down hard on Pakistan for its “unilateral suspension” of peace process, and hoped the NDA government has learnt the lesson and will refrain from “unthought, unconsulted” diplomatic moves aimed at building Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s persona.

“Pakistan’s unilateral suspension of peace process is extremely unfortunate. It is also a grim reminder of how Pakistan time and again has betrayed the peace process and its commitment to resolve all bilateral issues through peaceful negotiations,” party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.

He hoped that the BJP government has learnt their lesson and will “refrained from unthought, unconsulted diplomatic moves” purely aimed at building Modi’s “larger than life persona at the cost of compromising our nation’s safety and security.”

At the same time, Mr. Surjewala said the Congress stood with all Indians in condemning Pakistan’s skewed move to undo the peace process.

Another party spokesman, Manish Tewari, said the government has itself to blame for the development.

“The Government of India has no one but itself to blame for this unfortunate development. Prime Minister Modi’s flip flops, U-turns and somersaults over the past 22 months have allowed the Pakistani deep state i.e GHQ-ISI-terror groups orchestra to run circles around India.”

“We do hope that this government realises that diplomacy is not done on the fly by the seat of their pants. Government needs to introspect their failures in retrospect”, he added.

The sharp reaction from the Congress came close on the heels of Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s remarks that at present the peace process between India and Pakistan is “suspended”.

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