Pakistan suspends peace talks with India; won’t allow NIA team to visit Islamabad for Pathankot probe
Pakistan on Thursday said the dialogue process with India had been suspended and there was no question of allowing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) team to visit Islamabad to probe the Pathankot terror attack.
“There is no meeting scheduled for now. I think at present the peace process is suspended, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said at a media interaction at the Foreign Correspondents Club in New Delhi.
“India is not ready as yet,” Basit said, but quickly added that “we can only resolve issues through dialogue”.
This is the first official word from Pakistan about the latest breakdown in the now-on-now-off peace process with India.
After a team of Pakistani officials visited Pathankot to probe Indian charges that Pakistani terrorists were to blame for the attack, New Delhi had expected Islamabad to allow a NIA team to visit that country to take the probe forward.
Basit completely ruled out the possibility.
“The investigation (into the Pathankot attack) is not about reciprocity,” he said.
The Pakistan envoy began his interaction by reading out a prepared statement. He pointedly referred to the arrest of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Yadav on charges of spying in Pakistan’s south western province of Balochistan last month. Basit said that it “irrefutably corroborates what Islamabad has been saying all along.”
“We are aware of all those who seek to create unrest in Pakistan and destabilise the country. They are bound to fail.”
He said Pakistan had arrested scores of terror operatives with “foreign linkages” over the past month. “The presence of such elements is quite disturbing, to say the least.”
He also spoke on Kashmir, saying it was “the root cause of mutual distrust and other bilateral issues.” Attempts to put it on backburner will be counter-productive,he added. “The resolution of (the) Kashmir (dispute) should be fair and just.”
Ties were on an upswing in the relations between the neighbours after India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad for the Heart of Asia Conference in December 2015.
Indian PM Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore from Kabul on Christamas day. Modi made this impromptu stop over to greet his Pakistani counterpart on his 66th birthday.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the last Indian premier to visit Pakistan. In January 2004 he held talks with President Pervez Musharraf when he went to Islamabad to attend a summit meeting of a regional grouping.
The foreign secretaries of the two countries were to meet and prepare the pitch for peace talks in January this year. Terrorism was to be the focus of the talks. There was hope about revival of peace talks, however the January 2 Pathankot air base terror attack derailed any possibility for discussions.