Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s comments that bilateral talks with India were “suspended” and that there was no question of allowing an National Investigation Agency (NIA) team to visit Islamabad for the Pathankot probe, seem to be an indication of the different voices in the Pakistani establishment.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) cited Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson saying that both sides were in contact with each other over peace talks. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the visit of the NIA team to Pakistan was on the basis of reciprocity, previously agreed upon.
At a media interaction at the Foreign Correspondents Club in New Delhi on Thursday, Basit had said “There is no meeting scheduled for now. I think at present the peace process is suspended. India is not ready as yet,” Basit said. But he quickly added that “we can only resolve issues through dialogue”.
The Pakistan envoy also ruled out a reciprocal visit by the NIA to Pakistan to probe the Pathankot attack.
“The investigation (into the Pathankot attack) is not about reciprocity,”Basit said.
Swarup in his statement pointed out that Basit’s comments on foreign secretary level talks between the two countries, were contradicted by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
“It has been reiterated from both sides that modalities are being worked out. I will again state that negotiations are the best means to resolve the issues,” the spokesperson of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said. He also added that Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar too had indicated in a recent statement that talks would take place.
Basit also mentioned the arrest of Indian national Kulbushan Jadhav on charges of spying, proved Islamabad’s allegations that New Delhi was fueling unrest in Balochistan.
The announcement comes nearly three and half months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lahore on December 25 on an impromptu trip to greet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday.
Modi’s trip had raised hopes about the resumption of peace talks between the neighbours.
Basit’s comments and its contradictions later by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry is an indication of the growing disconnect between the various power centres in the country.
The military which has directly ruled Pakistan for more than half of its existence continues to hold a sway on its foreign policy, analysts say.